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Collaboration draws faculty to pursue opportunity at Ohio State

Nicole SintovNicole SintovBorn and raised in southern California, Nicole Sintov left her position at the University of Southern California to become a Buckeye.

“I wasn’t looking for a new job but when I read the position posting it described my exact interests. Then I learned about the Discovery Themes and found that there were quite a few people working in my adjacent areas,” said Sintov.

The Discovery Themes is a unique initiative in which Ohio State connects diverse ideas and people across disciplines and communities. Sintov, who was hired through the Sustainable and Resilient Economies Discovery Theme, has received incredible support and finds her fellow faculty members openly willing to collaborate. “Overall there are just good vides at Ohio State!” Sintov said.

Sintov, an assistant professor of Behavior, Decision Making and SustainabilityResearchers learning about the inner workings of electric vehiclesResearchers learning about the inner workings of electric. in the School of Environment and Natural Resources focuses her research on human behavior intervention and understanding the processes of behavior change. One area specifically deals with the adoption and use of sustainable transportation and electric cars.

A majority of her work in this area requires collaboration with computer scientists and engineers. Her expertise is needed because when deploying new transportation technologies there is always a human component.

Sintov is currently working on a project for the CAR Membership Consortium titled “Understanding and Improving Consumer Trust in Autonomous Vehicles.

“Research on human perceptual biases suggests that when people tie positive emotions to an object or activity they judge the associated risks to be lower, potentially leading to increased trust,” said Sintov, raising the question “could this concept be applied to AVs?”

Sintov and research groupSintov and her research group focus their research on human behavior intervention and understanding the processes of behavior change.

Research on AVs primarily focuses on the technology behind these vehicles, but market penetration centers around consumer acceptance. With this in mind, Sintov will look at factors that promote and inhibit consumer trust in AVs, accounting for affective responses to desired features in vehicles of the future (e.g., related to rest, entertainment, and productivity) and assess how much these are preferred by consumers based on context (personal vehicle, ride share, transit, etc…). With this information she will then conduct an experiment to determine the impact of different communications and marketing strategies on consumer trust and AV acceptance and adoption likelihood. 

After this 2-year study is completed, Sintov hopes to be able to inform marketing strategies to foster consumer trust, and ultimately adoption of autonomous vehicles.