Driving Home the Message: Using a Video Game Simulator to Steer Attitudes Away From Distracted Driving

Driving Home the Message: Using a Video Game Simulator to Steer Attitudes Away From Distracted Driving

Edward Downs (Department of Communication, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijgcms.2014010104
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Abstract

A pre-test, post-test experiment was conducted to determine if using a popular racing game on a PlayStation® 3 video game console could change a player's intent to drive distracted. Results indicated that those who were driving distracted (texting or talking) in a video game driving simulator had significantly more crashes, speed violations, and fog-line crossings than those in a non-distracted driving control group. These findings are consistent with predictions from the ACT-R cognitive architecture and threaded cognition theory. A follow-up study manipulated the original protocol by establishing a non-distracted baseline for participants' driving abilities as a comparison. Results demonstrated that this manipulation resulted in a significantly stronger change in attitude against driving distracted than in the original procedure. The implications help to inform driving safety programs on proper protocol for the use of game consoles to change attitudes toward distracted driving.
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Literature Review

Many theories across disciplines recognize that people are cognitive misers. That is to say, because there is so much data available to process in a given moment, people need to take shortcuts. While these shortcuts save time and mental energy in processing information, it often comes at the expense of sound, analytical decision making (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). In communication, the limited capacity model acknowledges the limited pool of resources that viewers have when encoding, storing, and retrieving message information when viewing televised content (Lang, Bolls, Potter, & Kawahara, 1999; Lang, 2000). In cognitive psychology, multimedia learning theory also recognizes that people have limited cognitive capacity (Mayer & Moreno, 2002). The redundancy principle acknowledges that processing information through too many senses can create a condition that is favorable to cognitive overload, and impeding the learning process (Leahy, Chandler, & Sweller 2003; Mayer & Moreno, 2002; Mousavi, Low, & Sweller, 1995). In the study of human-computer interaction, media equation also recognizes that interactive technologies can overload perceptual bandwidth (Reeves & Nass 1996; Reeves & Nass, 2000).

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