Stephen W. sent in some links to some advertising for the Ford Fusion, a hybrid.  The advertising highlights a feature in which more efficient driving is rewarded with multiplying leaves on a branch or tree.  With less efficient driving, your tree withers and dies, apparently.

Three things:

First, to me this seems like a fascinating convergence of driving and video gaming.

Second, it’s strategic that they illustrate efficient driving with a green plant. It suggests that driving actually makes things grow! When we know, in fact, that driving a hybrid just (probably) kills things more slowly. Instead, you feel like you are nurturing the planet with every trip to Target!

Third, there must be some great psychology behind this regarding how you both motivate and reward people. I wonder whether the feature would serve primarily to motivate the consumer to buy the Fusion and be fun at first, but quickly fade into the background workings of the vehicle. Those of you who have hybrids with other mechanisms of displaying efficiency may know the answer to that.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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