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How Uber Manipulates Its Drivers Using Psychological Tricks

Technology By


That same uncontrollable urge to keep binge watching Netflix shows is what keeps Uber drivers on their shift—and it’s based on a similar algorithm, too.

The riding sharing service alerts drivers of fares in the area before they even drop off their current passenger, a similar technological feature to the one used by Netflix that researchers suggest promotes binge-watching.

Like most tech companies that generate large amounts of data, Uber hired a slew of behavioral and data scientists to gain insight from their user-generated information.



To keep enough cars on the road to sustain demand, Uber came up with the pre-emptive alert, a new report by The New York Times suggests.

The company has experimented with game-like incentives to keep their drivers working longer, even when it may be less lucrative for the person behind the wheel. For instance, to exploit people’s goal-setting tendencies, drivers will often get an alert when their earnings are reaching a particular target.

Uber told the Times that there’s no manipulation involved and “the decision whether or not to drive is 100 percent theirs.”

See the full multi-media report at The New York Times.