Uber uses psychological manipulation to keep drivers at the wheel


In 2017, Uber began a programme experimenting with using psychology and social science insights to influence when, where, and how long its drivers work. Among other techniques, Uber auto-loaded the next fare to encourage the driver equivalent of binge TV-watching; reminded drivers when they're close to their earnings targets to keep them from logging off; and used game-style graphics and small-value awards to keep drivers at the wheel. The company also had male managers adopt female personas because doing so appeared to increase driver engagement. Similar techniques are being used by other "gig economy" companies such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Coming off a series of widely-publicised scandals, Uber claimed to be eager to rebuild its trust relationships with its drivers; however, the interests of the drivers and the company are inevitably at odds; the goal of these programmes is in part to get workers to internalise their companies' goals.

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