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3MT 2020

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What is a 3MT

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) challenges doctoral candidates to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes.

The University of East London’s 3MT competition took place on Wednesday 3 June, 2020 via Teams. Having earned a 1st runner up position in the 2018 competition, I decided to throw my hat into the ring one last time. Although I was unsuccessful this time, participating really helped me to stand back and look at my research from a zoomed out perspective. Here is my entry:

What is the correct way to eat a scone? Is it cream first and then jam, or jam first and then cream? The “correct” answer to this question is probably related to where you are from and what you’ve been taught.

What else do we approach from a place of inherent knowledge gained from our culture? Politics, religion, relationships? What about money and cars?

Electric vehicle (or EV) diffusion has been widely researched, but on my journey into understanding why there aren’t more EVs on London roads I discovered two gaps in the research that may be related and responsible. The first is cost and the second is culture.

Cost is one of the three main barriers to EV adoption. Most studies find that despite the higher purchase price, owning an EV is ultimately more cost effective than owning an internal combustible engine. This conclusion, however, is based on a total cost of ownership model that compares the monthly payments and not the full retail price.

Which brings me to the second gap – culture. Demographics like gender, life stage, education, house type, and income have all been connected to EV ownership in the literature, but cultural proxies like race or religion have not been reviewed as potential factors.

Culture is a complex concept because it is learned from one’s environment and falls somewhere between human nature and personality. Beliefs about money are connected to culture as they are unconscious, tend to be passed down through the generations and there may be demographic characteristics linked to those beliefs.

Which brings me back to the two gaps of cost and culture, and why they may be connected to EV adoption rates.

If the preference to purchase used vs new or in cash as opposed to credit is potentially linked to one’s culture, it means that some policies designed to encourage EV adoption at the point of sale may not be as effective as they could be, especially in a city as diverse as London.

So how do I determine if this is the case?

Through exploratory research using race as the cultural proxy. I took a quantitative approach and collected data from 476 London based drivers from different racial backgrounds to understand their car buying habits, to test their awareness of EV policies, to test their likelihood to purchase an EV in the next few years and to see if there were any differences in responses that could be attributed to race.

It’s worth remembering that exploratory research explores the research gaps in a way that leaves room for further confirmatory research and in this study I’ve found that there was little variance in responses based on race, in other words there were very similar attitudes to vehicle ownership and vehicle purchase across the entire sample of London based drivers.

Therefore, this research has laid the foundation for future, confirmatory research into how the city one lives in may be the cultural proxy that influences their attitudes towards electric vehicles.

It’s worth noting that I can’t as yet share the results of my analysis just yet, but as soon as I can – I will.

This year’s winners (and ones to watch generally) are:

Winner – Julian Lee Peters, , Hip Hop as the Main Narrative Storytelling Tool in Cinema: Adapting the Past

1st runner up – Kate Adams, Macrophages: The Art of Manipulation

2nd runner up – Natalie Simmons, Emotions and AI

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