Project Name: Our Mobility
Grantee: Jessica Murray
Discipline: Human Development / Psychology
Funding Cycle: 2017-2018
White Paper: Murray White Paper 2018
About the Project
“Our Mobility” is a study of transportation and disadvantage: how disability, income, race, gender, and age can limit someone’s ability to transport themselves and participate in activities of daily life. Two mobile apps, Google Maps Timeline and PACO (Personal Analytics Companion) will be used to record quantitative and qualitative differences in mobility for people living in the New York metropolitan area. Detailed reports of personal travel data will be offered as an incentive for participation and are designed to attract citizen scientists and self-measurement enthusiasts. This strategy is beneficial to both individuals and the project because participants may engage in the research more often and provide high-quality data in order to receive robust and accurate reports. Individuals with disabilities will be oversampled in order to compare outcomes like number of trips, speed, and distance caused by disparities in transportation access, and to gain usability insights about the accessibility of the tools.
While the current research design is ready for the pilot phase to test usability at a larger scale and gather preliminary data, the full study will go beyond observation to examine transportation disadvantage as it relates to individual development. In psychology, transportation is most often studied in the context of traffic behavior or understanding how people make transportation mode decisions, but fails to examine how geographic mobility impacts adult development. Transportation networks are usually considered a neighborhood characteristic within ecological systems research, and given only cursory attention as an environment in the psychological literature. However, the capacity or incapacity to move from place to place has implications beyond social isolation that deserve more exploration. For marginalized groups, gaining access to transportation can be a major challenge and take up a disproportionate amount of their daily lives compared to non-marginalized groups. There is very little understanding of meaningful supports or psychological processes that enable the resilience to overcome these challenges, especially for people with transportation disabilities. This project aims to contribute not only to a more nuanced understanding of these issues, but also to possible solutions.