November 2008

Strapping yarns: why people do and do not wear seatbelts


My enduring memory of this project is the time I spent sitting under a gazebo, listening to people to whom the police had just given a choice between paying their fine or talking to me.

Of course, most of what I heard was self-justificatory post-rationalisation, rather than a real answer to the question: why do some people sometimes not wear seatbelts? But we used what we heard to create ‘characters’ which we then presented as stimulus material in workshops with participants who also confessed to not always wearing one.

“Oh yes,” they’d say when they saw the excuses we’d heard, “that’s what they would say. What actually happened was probably this…”