Why Are We Afraid of Self-Driving Cars? BCM310 Research Proposal

Why Are We Afraid of Self-Driving Cars? BCM310 Research Proposal

The future is well on its way, and it looks like that future is going to be fully autonomous. We’re getting closer and closer to a world in which self-driving cars will share the road with regular drivers. In fact, it might be here sooner than you might think. Based on current claims it looks like there’s going to be a lot of progress made over the next 5 to 10 years.

Even recently, over the past few weeks, there’s been some significant developments. While Uber and Google have been testing out the technology for a while, Waymo (Google’s self-driving car unit) has just started testing autonomous cars with real human customers. South Korea has just allowed Samsung to begin testing self-driving car technology, and even Apple is reportedly testing out a car of their own in California.

So a future with autonomous cars in it is looking more and more likely. While research has been conducted regarding ethical concerns of self-driving vehicles, how this new technology could reshape our cities. What I’m curious about is how people currently perceive driverless cars and why they feel the way they do.

There has already been some research conducted around this topic, and this research is what I will be using as a springboard for my own research project. For my research project I will be examining research conducted by several different groups in several different countries. I will also be conducting my own survey and comparing the results with prior surveys. The surveys I will be comparing with my own come from 4 main sources.

There are 2 public opinion surveys conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), one from 2016, one from 2017. There’s a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2016, and there’s an older survey from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute published in 2014. This research found some interesting trends but there are also some areas that might require further research. I’m curious to if the trends present in this research exist among UOW students which is why I’ll be doing a brief survey of my own.

For example, in both surveys conducted by the AAA 3/4 of U.S. drivers said they would be afraid to ride in a completely autonomous car, and in the 2016 survey only 1/5 drivers said they would trust the car to drive by itself. By contrast, PwC’s survey found 66% of respondents in the U.S. said they felt that autonomous cars were probably smarter than the average human driver, and in the University of Michigan’s research the majority of people surveyed thought it was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that completely self-driving vehicles would reduce the number of automotive accidents.

The results from all four of these sources also show that there may be some trends related to age and gender. Older respondents are more likely to show concern about autonomous vehicles than younger respondents. Similarly, females said they were more “afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle” than males. These are the kind of trends I want to examine with my research.

I will also be conducting some more in-depth research into the potential reasons behind the apprehension people seem to be feeling about self-driving cars as well as the reasons people do or do not want to share the roads with them. The CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA believes that once someone test drives an autonomous car for themselves, they’re converted. Could it be that distrust of autonomous cars is simply due to a lack of experience with them? These are the kinds of things I will be aiming to find out through more thorough research.

My finding will be presented in an essay format, although if I have time I would like to change it up and incorporate video somehow.



Week 10: More in-depth research. Create and share survey.

Week 11: Examine survey results, compare with prior research.

Week 12: Write essay draft.

Week 13: Finalise and submit essay.



Bergen, M 2017, ‘Google will begin testing autonomous cars with consumers’, Automotive News, <http://www.autonews.com/article/20170425/COPY01/304259948/google-will-begin-testing-autonomous-cars-with-consumers&gt;.

Bergen, M 2017, ‘Check Out the Lexus That Apple’s Using to Test Self-Driving Technology’, Bloomberg, <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-27/check-out-the-lexus-that-apple-s-using-to-test-self-driving-car-technology&gt;.

Collett, T 2017, ‘Samsung To Test Autonomous Cars in South Korea’, The Motor Report, <http://www.themotorreport.com.au/65070/samsung-to-test-autonomous-cars-in-south-korea&gt;

Doctorow, C 2015, ‘The problem with self-driving cars: who controls the code?’, The Guardian, <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/dec/23/the-problem-with-self-driving-cars-who-controls-the-code&gt;

Driving the future: understanding the new automotive customer 2016, PricewaterhouseCooper, <http://www.pwc.com/us/en/industry/entertainment-media/publications/consumer-intelligence-series/autotech.html&gt;.

Forecasts 2017, Driverless car market watch, <http://www.driverless-future.com/?page_id=384&gt;.

Mitchell, R 2016, ‘Human drivers will bully robot cars, says CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA’, Los Angeles Times, <http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-live-updates-2016-la-auto-show-human-drivers-will-bully-robot-cars-1479247249-htmlstory.html&gt;.

Schoettle, B, Sivak, M 2014, A survey of public opinion about autonomous and self-driving vehicles in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, University of Michigan, <https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/108384&gt;.

Stepp, E 2016, Three Quarters of Americans “Afraid” to Ride in a Self-Driving Vehicle, American Automobile Association, <http://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/03/three-quarters-of-americans-afraid-to-ride-in-a-self-driving-vehicle&gt;.

Stepp, E 2017, Americans Feel Unsafe Sharing the Road with Fully Self-Driving Cars, American Automobile Association, <http://newsroom.aaa.com/2017/03/americans-feel-unsafe-sharing-road-fully-self-driving-cars&gt;.

Stone, J, Curtis, C, Legacy, C, Scheurer, J 2017, ‘We must plan the driverless city to avoid being hostage to the technology revolution’, The Conversation,<https://theconversation.com/we-must-plan-the-driverless-city-to-avoid-being-hostage-to-the-technology-revolution-75531&gt;.

Research Project – Binge Watching

Research Project – Binge Watching

In 2015 the term “binge-watch” was Collins’ Dictionary’s word of the year. Meaning “to watch a large number of television programs (especially all shows from on series) in succession,” binge-watching has become a fairly widespread practice, especially among younger audiences, potentially due to the rise in popularity of video-on-demand services like Netflix and Stan. Approximately 84% of those aged 14-25 have engaged in binge-watching, 42% of them do it about once a week.

Though there has been a reasonably large amount of research done on the phenomenon of binge-watching, it focused mainly on demographics and consumers’ perceptions of binge-watching. This research project aimed to explore the circumstances in which binge-watching occurred, looking at where it physically happened, as well as how it began and ended.

Information was gathered through a number of interviews, and an anonymous online survey. Research was also conducted beforehand to gather background information. We’ll go through some of the research, then continue on to information gathered from the surveys and interviews.

What is a Binge?

Before beginning my research project, I needed to determine what exactly constituted a binge. It turned out that this was harder than you’d think as there isn’t a great deal of consensus when it comes to defining the term. In Deloitte’s Ninth Edition of their Digital Democracy Survey they defined it as “watching three or more episodes of a TV series in one sitting.” Netflix surveyed their users in 2014 and the majority described binge-watching as watching between two and six episodes of the same TV show in one sitting. In my own survey the results varied, though most believed that watching more than 3 episodes of a TV show in one sitting constituted a binge.

This was also supported by the Tenth Edition of Deloitte’s Digital Democracy Survey, which surveyed roughly 2,000 consumers in the United States. Their survey found that 70% of respondents said on average they binge-watched five episodes at a time.

So it seems like somewhere around four to six episodes in a single sitting is a safe estimate for what constitutes a watching binge.

How often do binges occur?

Next I wanted to find out how often people were binging. The tenth Digital Democracy Survey also had some interesting information on this. They found that 31% of the respondents who claimed to binge-watch did so at least once a week. It also appears that binge-watching is more common among younger consumers with 84% of those aged 14-25 saying they had binge-watched before, according to the ninth Digital Democracy Survey. Of those, 42% claimed to binge-watch at least once a week.

Globally, and across all age groups, 66% of all video-on-demand (VOD) users said they used the service to watch multiple episodes in one sitting, according to Nielsen’s Global Video-On-Demand Survey.

Who is Binge-Watching?

Binge-watching appears to be significantly more common among younger consumers. Around 84% of people aged 14-31 have binged before, with 42% of those aged 14-25 claiming to binge-watch at least once a week, according to the ninth Digital Democracy Survey. Their survey also found that binge-watching is also far more common among individuals with a subscription to a streaming service. My own survey found similar results, the majority of my respondents said they mostly binged using online streaming services such as Netflix or Stan.

My Project

The main aim of this project was to gather information. This was done through research, an anonymous online survey, and a series of interviews. There were 43 responses to my survey, and I interviewed four individuals. In this section I will outline what was learned.


The first question was simply used to determine if respondents had ever binge-watched anything before. In the survey and the interviews, every respondent said they had engaged in binge-watching before.


Here, I was trying to see what my respondents considered a binge. It appears that most of the respondents decided that three or more episodes of a TV show in one sitting constituted a binge, although there were some interesting outliers.

Interview subjects said they agreed with the conclusions drawn by Netflix during their survey. Importantly, they pointed out that it depends on the length of the episodes being watched. With longer episodes (around 40-50 minutes) interviewees mostly said 3-4 episodes was a binge. With shorter episodes (around 20-30 minutes) interviewees mostly said somewhere between 5-10 episodes was a binge.


Looking at the responses above you can see that most respondents binge-watch pretty regularly. The majority of the respondents had binge-watched something within a week, while some had paused mid-binge to take my survey.

Two interviewees had binge-watched within one week, one had binge-watched two weeks prior to the interview, and one hadn’t binge-watched for about two months.


As you can see in the responses to this question, most of the binges took place in the bedroom. This was further backed up by the information gathered in the interviews where all four respondents said they mostly binge-watch in the bedroom alone. Based on their responses I believe that further research should be conducted to see if binge-watching is a mostly solitary activity.


Studying the responses from this question and the previous question, we can see that the majority of binges take place in the bedroom, on a laptop or computer.

Based on the fact that they mostly took place in the bedroom, we could infer that the majority of binges take place late at night, possibly before the respondent went to sleep. During the interviews, most interviewees actually said they typically binged during the later hours of the day or at night. Further research on the times that binges take place could be very interesting.


The majority of my survey respondents said they binge-watched using an online streaming service, like Netflix or Stan. During interviews, all of the people I spoke with responded similarly. Although some said they had often used DVDs to binge-watch television series, the majority of their binges took place online using video-on-demand (VOD) services.

This could be attributed to the rising popularity of VOD services, which has made it far easier to watch multiple episodes of a TV series in one sitting. In Nielsen’s survey, respondents said they preferred VOD services to more traditional options like a satellite or cable subscription for a number of reasons. One of the most popular reasons behind maintaining a subscription to a VOD service, was the fact that they allowed consumers to watch multiple episodes of a television show in one sitting. Two-thirds of respondents agreed that it was a major motivator.


There isn’t a lot we can infer from the survey responses alone, other than that 72% of respondents didn’t plan their binges. The interviews were much more useful here. All four interviewees said that most of their binges were spontaneous. The decision to binge wasn’t made until the first episode had finished, when the subjects said they had to make a tough decision.

They had to choose between ending their Netflix session there or continuing the series, and that’s where the binge began. All four subjects said that after deciding to watch “just one more” episode, they were more likely to continue and watch another two or three episodes.


Here is where I got the most deviation in responses. Reasons for ending a binge ranged from not having any more episodes to watch, the respondent feeling too tired to continue, or having other responsibilities to take care of.

Ad Blocking and You – Research Proposal


This research project aims to determine how widespread the use of ad blockers is in Australia, particularly among young adults, or those aged between 18 and 29. It also hopes to determine the reasons that members of this demographic use an ad blocker and if usage is more popular among males or females. After reading the annual Ad Blocking Report released by Adobe and PageFair which focused mostly on ad blocker usage in the United States of America and Europe, I was curious about the usage of ad blockers in Australia.

It is unlikely that we will be able to get a full picture of how widespread ad blocker usage is across all of Australia due to this project’s expectedly small response size, however it is possible that there will be enough responses to give us an idea of how many individuals at the University of Wollongong use ad blockers.

When creating my survey, I used several resources to ensure the questions were as clear, not misleading, unbiased, and as respectful as possible. The Harvard University Program on Survey Research assisted me in deciding which questions I would include and how to word them, How to Write Good Survey Questions from quickanddirtytips.com helped me decide on the structure the survey would have. It was also important to be aware of my own potential bias as an ad blocker user when writing the survey and I will need to keep this in mind again when interpreting the results.


Ad blocking extensions have been steadily growing in popularity. Eyeo GmbH’s “AdBlock Plus” is currently the most downloaded browser extension of all time with over 300 million downloads, and BetaFish’s similarly named “AdBlock” boasts over 200 million downloads. According to the annual Ad Blocking Reports published by Adobe and PageFair ad blocker usage is highest among younger users, particularly those from 18 to 29 years old.

As ad blocking usage has been steadily increasing and reportedly costs advertisers USD21.8bn in 2015 (page 7), and since the above-mentioned reports focused mostly on the United States and Europe, I felt that further research that is focussed on Australia could potentially benefit advertisers in some way and also sate my curiosity.

Survey – Ad Blocking and You

This survey is being conducted as part of a research project for BCM210 – Research Practices in Media and Communication, a compulsory subject for BCMS students at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Its aim is to find how widespread the use of ad blockers is, and the reasons that individuals use them.

Participation in this survey is completely voluntary and the responses given will be kept confidential. Individuals are under no obligation to complete the survey and may exit and any time. By completing this survey you consent to your answers being used as part of a research project.

The results of this survey will be published on Mathew Robinson’s blog. If you have any questions related to the survey you may contact Mathew Robinson there or via Twitter.

This survey will take approximately 2 minutes to complete.

  1. What is your age?
  • 18 to 24
  • 25 to 34
  • 35 to 44
  • 45 to 54
  • 55 to 64
  • 65 to 74
  • 75 or older
  1. What is your gender?
  • Female
  • Male
  • Other
  1. Do you currently use an ad blocker
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Why do you use an ad blocker?

If you answered “No” to Question 3, what could make you begin using an ad blocker? Leave blank if you would never consider using an ad blocker.

  • Misuse of personal data to personalise advertisements.
  • Security concerns.
  • Noticed an increase in the number of advertisements encountered.
  • To block disruptive or intrusive advertisements.
  • Other (please specify)



The timeline below shows the expected timeline from now to the end of the research project. “Timelines are important in evaluating the feasibility of your project.  Inexperienced researchers tend to underestimate the amount of time that the various stages of research will take.” Due to this, the timeline for this project is generous is some places to give time to adjust and adapt for any unexpected changes or obstacles that come up.



risk assessment chart

Research Proposal-The Rise of Ad Blocking

Research Proposal-The Rise of Ad Blocking

Since the creation of AdBlock Plus in 2006, ad blocking extensions have grown in popularity, becoming almost essential for many individuals with AdBlock Plus proudly holding the title of most downloaded browser extension of all time with over 300 million downloads, and AdBlock boasting over 200 million downloads. Ad blocking extensions have been growing in popularity for several years now, particularly among younger users. My research project will look at the reasons that individuals use ad blocking extensions or programs such as AdBlock Plus, AdBlock, and uBlock.

What is Ad Blocking?

Ad blocking is the automatic removal of advertisements from web pages. This includes the removal of video ads, banner ads, text ads, and sponsored links or stories. This is usually done through the installation of a web browser extension which can be done in a matter of minutes.

Primary Question

My primary question is “Why do young adults use ad blockers?”. I will also be trying to answer this question by gathering information on the reasons for the growing popularity of ad blockers among young adults, or those aged around 18-29, as well as attempting to determine if ad blockers are more widely used by males or females. In the next sections I will detail my reasons for focusing on these areas in particular and how I will conduct my research.

Preliminary Reading

This section will outline the prior research that has been conducted, and will justify the project’s aim.

Eyeo GmbH, the company behind AdBlock Plus, has released annual reports on ad blocking since 2013 (you can find all three right here). These reports have been put together using anonymous data gathered by Eyeo and PageFair, a free service that allows website owners to measure how many of their visitors are blocking ads which Eyeo has been using to help them measure the growth of ad blocking since 2012.

Their most recent report, the 2015 Ad Blocking Report – The Cost of AdBlocking, was released in August 2015. It showed that as of June 2015 there were at least 198 million monthly active users of major browser extensions that block ads, which showed that ad blocker usage increased by 41% (YoY from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015). This means that 6% of the global internet population currently use an ad blocker. While this may not seem like a significant amount of users globally, the 2015 Ad Blocking Report states that ad blocking from 2014 to 2015 cost advertisers an estimated $21.8bn in ad revenue (this is an estimate based on total revenue and ad blocking rates).

adblock usage graph

According to the 2015 Report the main reasons that respondents from the United States of America use an ad blocker are a misuse of personal information and an increase in the number of ads they would usually see. I am curious to see if the reasons for using an ad blocker are any different among Australian users or if they will mirror the study done in the United States of America.

adblock reasons graph.png

Their 2014 Report – Ad Blocking Goes Mainstream – also included information on the demographics of ad block users within the United States of America. The report shows that ad blocking software is most popular among millennials with 41% of users aged between 18 and 29 years old claiming to use it. Since the 2015 report does not specifically focus on demographics I believe it would be interesting to use this project as an opportunity to see if there is still a large portion of 18 to 29 year olds using ad blocking software. It would also give us an idea of the use of ad blockers in Australia.

Within all age groups males were more likely than females to use an ad blocker but the difference was most noticeable within this younger age group with 54% of males compared to 31% of females claiming to use ad blocking software. The numbers for both males and females were significantly higher than every other age group.

There was also a large scale study commissioned by Eyeo that was done in 2015 in the United States of America, France, and Germany to examine the public’s perception of online advertising and find out which types of ads individuals found most irritating. Respondents ranked them from most disruptive to least disruptive. This study found that pop-up ads, ad banners, and un-skippable video ads were consistently rated as the most disruptive advertisements by all respondents.


This research project will use anonymous surveys to gather information on how many people use ad blocking extensions, and why they use them. At this stage I am also planning to include optional questions that will determine what age bracket they belong to, and what gender they are.