2021 Research Project

Assessing how private beliefs conflict with public action on Safe Systems

Principal Investigator
Seth LaJeunesse 
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Co-Principal Investigator
Jill Cooper
University of California, Berkeley
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Interim Research Brief: Peer Influence and Perceptions of Safety


This project aims to assess the degree of pluralistic ignorance in people’s minds about what others prioritize in transportation, with safety being among the priorities. This project will also analyze participants’ ranked transportation investment priorities and assess how pluralistic ignorance of others’ priorities predicts less desirable travel attitudes and behaviors (e.g., failing to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks, driving well above the posted speed limit), as well as participants’ transportation aspirations (e.g., to walk more and drive less); investigate the mismatch among survey participants’ ranked priorities and their local and state policymakers’ transportation-related voting patterns and budgeting decisions; and discern the degree to which pluralistic ignorance helps to explain prevailing patterns in transportation funding and programming; and facilitate other Universities’ and local agencies’ assessment of the population’s transportation investment priorities.
This project will reveal and reconcile the sizable gap between what members of the public most want from their transportation system and what they believe others—including policymakers—want from the system. Research on pluralistic ignorance with respect to transportation investment priorities can aid in bridging the chasm between Safe Systems theory and practice, and signal to policymakers and the public that equitable and safe access to services and community life is more widely valued than is commonly believed.

Project Details

Project Type: Research
Project Status: Active
Start Date: 06/01/2021
End Date: 07/31/2022
Contract Year: Year 5
Total Funding from CSCRS: $120,397