Wayne State anthropology students team up with Chevy to encourage safer driving behaviors
A team of Wayne State University anthropology students held a vital role in the development of Chevrolet’s new app designed to encourage safer driving behaviors – keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The app, called Call Me Out, plays a personalized audio message from a friend or loved one when a driver attempts to use their phone in a moving vehicle. The recording serves as a gentle reminder that their text can wait. In addition to the “positive peer pressure” of the recording, Call Me Out allows users to compete with their friends, ranking how many alerts they’ve ignored.
Essential to the development of this groundbreaking app, Chevrolet contacted the anthropology department which led the qualitative research project as part of its practicum course in the graduate curriculum. Directed by Profs. Yuson Jung and Andrea Sankar, 10 WSU Masters anthropology students participated as student researchers to study the driving safety app. Throughout the summer of 2017, they collected and examined data to help determine if people would use Call Me Out and why.
The students recruited 75 additional WSU students to download the app and use it for three weeks during beta testing. They used qualitative research including ethnographic insights to help develop the app about improving driving behaviors.
Interestingly, the Wayne State team found that users were more enthusiastic to share the app with friends and family than they were about the competitive nature of the app. Users also expressed how the app reminded them “to do the right thing” as responsible drivers.
As a direct result of this unique experience, several students have gone on to accept job offers from companies as consumer insights and user experience specialists nationwide. Jasmine Walker, an anthropology alum and member of the Call Me Out research team, said the experience was invaluable.
“Not only did working on the project help me figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my degree, it gave me real-world practice in the user experience (UX field),” Walker said. “When recruiters hear that you've worked on a project with a major corporation like Chevrolet, you're almost guaranteed an interview.”
WSU’s anthropology program offers distinctive training for graduate students including this kind of hands-on practicum training as part of their curriculum. It continues to work with other companies to work on similar ventures utilizing qualitative research and anthropological expertise.
For more information on WSU’s anthropology graduate program, visit clas.wayne.edu/Anthropology/Graduate-Programs and for the business anthropology concentration, visit go.wayne.edu/businessanthro.