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The Psychology of ParkingScience project video


1. Approximate the number of cars in the parking lot. For larger parking lots, estimate the number cars by counting the number of cars in a section of the parking lot (Example: Pick an area that is an approximately a quarter of the total area of the parking lot and multiply the number of cars by four).

2. It is recommended that you use a spreadsheet to organize and manage your data. For recording your data out "in the field", a simple tally sheet can be used:

Number of cars

Backed in

Handicap zone

Takes 2 spaces


3. Survey the parking lot for the following parking styles:

  • Backed into the parking space
  • Taking up two parking spaces
  • Illegally parked in the handicap zone

4. Record the following data:

  • The total number (or estimate) of cars in the parking lot.
  • The total number of cars for each category of "parking style".

5. Divide the total number of cars in a given category by the total number of cars in the parking lot. This will give you the percentage of cars for the specific category. For example:

  • If there are four cars that take up two parking spaces and there are a total of 100 cars in the parking lot, divide four by 100.
  • Multiply the result by 100 and this will give you the percentage of cars taking up two parking spots:
  • 4/100= .25, .25 x100= 25%

6. Repeat this procedure for each category and record your results.

  • If you are able to speak to the drivers, be polite, greet them and then mention the following: "I am doing a survey on parking behavior as part of a science project for my school. Would you be able to help me with a few questions?"
  • If the driver agrees, say the following:
  • "What was your reason for (backing into the parking spot, taking up two spots, or parking in a handicap zone) ?

7. Be sure to phrase the question "What was your reason?" instead of "Why did you park?." Saying "Why" may imply to the driver that he or she is being judged.

8. The second question would be "Is this how you normally park?

9. Write down the drivers' responses and thank them for their time.

10. If you are not able to interview a driver for a certain parking style category, you can interview someone you know who engages in this kind of behavior.

11. Review the results from the interview and check for any common patterns in the responses.

12. Create a profile for each parking category by identifying the patterns from the interviews for each category along with the statistic. Example:

  • What is the frequency of the specific behavior for all parking lots studied?
  • What portion of the participants engages in the behavior habitually?
  • Driver's reasons for their behavior.

Can you draw a conclusion on the drivers?

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    Adult supervision is recommended as this science project involves interviewing strangers.