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Uber Is Using Psychological Tricks to Influence Its Drivers

April 3, 2017, 12:41 PM UTC

“Just another half hour” might be a familiar mantra for Netflix owners and video game players.

But its also likely a phrase echoed by Uber drivers on the verge of ending their shift, according to the New York Times. In fact, the ride-hailing company has employed hundreds of social scientists and data scientists to experiment with video game techniques and more to subtly influence their drivers’ behavior, the newspaper reports.

For example, in order to keep supply and demand in balance, the company may try to keep drivers on the road even in areas that would be less lucrative for the person behind the wheel. The Times reports that Uber drivers are notified if there’s another fare opportunity nearby — even before they’ve completed their current trip. Sound familiar? That because it’s run by a similar algorithm used by Netflix to load the next episode after the current one has finished — a feature that is said to promote binge watching.

Uber said its drivers have total autonomy. “We show drivers areas of high demand or incentivize them to drive more,” Michael Amodeo, an Uber spokesman, told The Times. “But any driver can stop work literally at the tap of a button — the decision whether or not to drive is 100% theirs.”