After a dinner that was interrupted by several startling inclement weather alerts from my phone, I hopped into the nearest cab home, drenched and somewhat annoyed. My irritability rushed me (at a quicker-than-usual pace) to cancel/mute/kill the programming reel I knew was about to run on the cab’s “passenger information monitor” (PIM).

But, that’s when I noticed a screen option I hadn’t seen before: “Passenger Survey”. As someone who deals with lots of surveys and survey-like methods at my job, I always feel for those desperate to collect user feedback in this way, and I typically take any survey that’s offered to me (as long as it’s not related to something despicable).

Who would have thought that a taxicab survey would have such a delightful effect. Here’s the flow I went through (please forgive the shaky-cab-in-a-storm photo quality):


1. I’m presented with a straightforward question with some unexpected, playful responses. I choose the sillier choice (option “B”), which also happens to be the truth (sorry, Mom).


2. I now get that the survey’s purpose is more to persuade than to survey, but I’m still engaged. Again, I go with the silly truth, and choose option B. I’m starting to forget that my feet are wrinkly from gross puddle water.


3. The survey’s rhetoric amps up with a bit of a dark snark answer, which I unfortunately must choose. Guilt on, Wayne.


4. I chose option C, here, because at this point I’m thinking that whatever “data” comes from this survey can’t possibly be worth much aside from just a record of how many people might feel guilty about their seatbelt behaviors.


5. I said yes to this question and then was led to what I believe to be the real survey, which I took.

Someone looking at my survey responses (if anyone is looking) might not be able to get a lot of hard information from the silly pre-survey, but I’m betting that they have a lot more response data from the real survey to look at because of it. I honestly probably wouldn’t have taken the real survey had the silly pre-survey not offered a nice transition into it.

One could argue many things about what this silly survey adds to or captures about an experience. To me, it seems to have worked as an effective method of persuasion:

  • It improved my mood, and thus improved my cab ride.
  • It caused me to think deeply about my safety while using public transportation, and left a lasting effect on my memory.
  • It communicated about public transportation safety, as well as the city’s perspective on it, in an engaging way.

A silly pre-survey might not be an effective research method, but the notion of it is a hearty reminder that contextual research often needs a hook to attract and engage participants, and that humor and creativity make great hooks.


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