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There are many factors that can influence one’s choice to use the stair over the elevator, and vice versa. In this study, we will focus on the factors of peer pressure and gender. The study will include 40 randomly selected participants from the University of Kentucky. They will be asked to participate in, what they believe is, the real study on the second floor. We will be observing how they decide to reach the second floor: stairs or elevator. In four different conditions, we will test if subjects take the elevator more often if no one is already waiting for it, people of the same gender are waiting, people of the opposite gender are waiting, or people of both genders are waiting. We anticipate both genders will be more likely to take the elevator if someone is already waiting for it, but more specifically, that males will be more likely to take the elevator if males are waiting than women are to take the elevator if women are waiting. Furthermore, applied research should be conducted to test different strategies to increase stair usage on college campuses.
We are researching peer influencers and the effects of gender on individuals. This will be investigated specifically as it pertains to the decision of taking the elevator versus the stairs, which will both be in sight of the subject.
There are many studies that assess the usage of elevator use versus stair use, as well as the factors that influence exercise among college students and across genders. One study investigated elevator availability and how it influenced stair usage in the workplace. The article points out that although there has been much success with increasing stair usage in public places, the results are not the same when it comes to the workplace – and many students may consider the University of Kentucky campus their workplace (Olander & Eves, 2011).
The results of this study showed that the stair usage was influenced by many factors, including elevator availability, number of people using the stairs, building occupancy, and time of day. When there were fewer elevators available, people were more likely to take the stairs. Contrarily, when there were many people taking the stairs, others were likely to use the elevator. Also, as the building occupancy increased, stair use increased. The time of day also lead to reduced stair usage (Olander & Eves, 2011).
The results of this study contradict our hypothesis, as this study found that when there are many people taking the stairs, more people are likely to take the elevator (Olander & Eves, 2011). However, our study differs because we are testing the opposite – if people are waiting for the elevator, will others be more likely to take the stairs? Furthermore, in our study, the amount of people waiting for the elevator will not be overwhelming (while in the previous study, it seems that the stairs were overpopulated, which caused increased elevator use). Our study simply has two other people waiting for the elevator.
The results of this study can apply to future planning of elevator and stair placement, with the intention to promote stair usage. The study found that contextual factors could cause an increase in elevator wait times. With the support of our study, these findings can influence architectural designs in order to promote using the stairs on a regular basis, as it contributes to a healthy lifestyle (Olander & Eves, 2011).
As the choice to take the stairs over the elevator may be attributed to something other than peer pressure, it is important to analyze the differences in motivational factors in men and women when it comes to exercise. A study of 172 college students in the United Kingdom analyzed these factors. It was found that women were more likely to develop exercise fixation and commitment, while men were more likely to respond to peer pressure from dating partners (Chalk, Miller, Roach, & Schultheis, 2013).
These results support our analysis that males are more likely to take the elevator if males are waiting than women are to take the elevator if women are waiting. This is attributed to the findings that when it comes to exercise, men are highly influenced by peer pressure. Thus, when a group of males take the elevator, or take the stairs, he is more likely to follow that group. These findings can influence exercise promotion ads that target males specifically. In order to encourage exercise, the ad can challenge males to positively encourage each other. This will have a greater effect in promoting exercise than if the ad were to target women under the same circumstances (Chalk, et al., 2013).
A similar study analyzes the usage of signs as a method to increase physical activity on college campuses. The results were significant, demonstrating that the use of informational signs containing health tips increased stair usage by 18.6 percent. Furthermore, after the signs were removed the following day, there was still an increase in stair usage during the following weeks (Ford & Torak, 2008).
This applies to the current study as the goal of this research can be to promote physical exercise, and thereby increase stair usage. If the results of this study demonstrate that, due to peer pressure or not, elevator usage is more common than elevator usage, more methods need to be instated in order to promote physical activity. One method can include putting motivational signs near the stairwells, which proved successful, at least to men, in this study (Ford & Torak, 2008).
While signage is a quick and cheap short-term goal to promote stair usage, building design is a more permanent and long-term solution, especially in the workplace. One study suggests the use of a skip-stop elevator, which stops at every second or third floor only. A field observation of a workplace with this type of elevator, as well as an elevator, showed that those with desks near the skip-stop elevator used the stairs 72% more than those seated near the regular elevator (Nicoll & Zimring, 2009).
This study also addresses a common reason that people do not use the stairs regularly – a reason that may be often overlooked: stairs can look unpleasant or be inaccessible. During this study, researchers made sure to make the stair options presentable and nearby, which may have contributed to the high levels of stair usage. This strategy of making staircases look presentable can be applied to college campuses as well to increase stair usage among students. Additionally, the number of elevators on campus can simply be reduced to increase stair use. This would be beneficial to the school or workplace because not only are stairs cheaper to build initially, the cost of upkeep is much smaller than that of an elevator (Nicoll & Zimring, 2009).
The first independent variable is the presence or absence of people waiting at the elevator. The second independent variable is the gender of the individuals waiting at the elevator: male or female, or both. Thus, there will be four possible groups: No one waiting at the elevator, all males waiting, all females waiting, or males and females waiting. The dependent variable will be the decision of the subject as to whether they take the stairs or the elevator.
We hypothesize that subjects will be more likely to take the elevator when there are other people waiting for the elevator. Furthermore, the subjects will be more likely to take the elevator when the people already waiting are the same gender as the subject. Also, males will be more likely to take the elevator if males are waiting than women are to take the elevator if women are waiting.
Deception will be used, as subjects believe they will be participating in an experiment studying memory. To get to the lab, they must go up to the second floor. Upon entering the building, there will be a staircase and elevator within sight. Under four different conditions, the subject will have to choose to take either the stairs or the elevator in order to reach the second floor. The actions of the subject will be observed through a camera placed in the corner of the room. To prevent suspicion from the subject, the camera will appear like a common security camera.
The materials being used are the “security” camera, the stairs, and elevator present in the building, and the memory lab set up on the second floor. The memory lab on the second floor, which is solely deceptive in purpose, will be located in a room with a table and a memory game. First, the subject will fill out a form asking for basic information: name, age, gender, and contact information. Then the “experimenter” will observe the subject as they play the memory game. After the game, the subject will leave the room. Only the subject’s ascent to the second floor will be noted for the purpose of this study, not their choice of how they return to the first floor.
Subjects are randomly assigned to each of the conditions: no one waiting at the elevator, all males waiting, all females waiting, and both genders waiting. There will be ten participants per condition. Each participant is asked to arrive at the lab at certain time intervals in order to avoid interaction between subjects.
For the first ten participants, they will enter the building. The stairs and elevator are both equal distance from the front door. No one will be waiting at the elevator. The subject will chose to reach the lab on the second floor using either the stairs or elevator. Their choice will be monitored via the camera, and the data will be recorded. For the second group of participants, two males will be waiting at the elevator. The subject will then choose whether to take the stairs or not. For the third group, two females will be waiting for the elevator. For the fourth group, one male and one female will be waiting at the elevator. All responses will be viewed on camera and the data will be recorded.
We predict that that subjects will be more likely to take the elevator when there are other people waiting for the elevator. Furthermore, the subjects will be more likely to take the elevator when the people already waiting are the same gender as the subject. In the first group (no one waiting for the elevator), more subjects will decide to take the stairs than any other group. In the second group (males waiting at the elevator), more subjects will decide to take the elevator. Of these subjects, more males will decide to take the elevator. In the third group (females waiting for the elevator), more subjects will decide to take the elevator. Of these subjects, more females will decide to take the elevator. In the fourth group (one male and one female waiting for the elevator), more subjects will decide to take the elevator. Of these subjects, there will be an equal amount of males and females that decided to take the elevator.
A paired samples t-test will be used to compare each of the groups. This test will determine if there was a significant difference between the number of subjects who used the elevator versus the stairs. Furthermore, this test will test if there was a significant difference between whether more males or females took the elevator when people of their same gender were waiting. Figure 1, below, shows the mean number of males and females in each group that chose to take the elevator versus the stairs.
We were researching whether peer influences and gender influence decision making. Although the current literature describes different strategies for increasing stair usage, and how men and women are motivated to be physically active, these two topics have not been combined. The current study discusses the difference in gender as it applies to deciding to use the stairs versus the elevator. Furthermore, the current research adds the additional element of peer pressure. It tests whether not if just gender differences, but if peer pressure can influence the decision being made, versus if the participant were alone. One confound is if there are people that are physically unable to take the stairs. Because they have no choice but to take the elevator, this can skew the data. Also, students may see the video camera disguised as a security camera and feel pressured by that factor alone, therefore skewing the data. Though these confounds exist, they can be accounted for and would not jeopardize the validity of the experiment. Future research on this topic should test using the same methods, but add the factor of having unkempt, unappealing stairs versus appealing, clean stairs. There may be gender differences when testing who is more likely to not use the unkempt stairs. These findings can be applied to strategies on college campuses to increase stair usage.
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