Influencing mobility choices and behaviours

D. Xenias (chair); M. Barth; E. Dütschke. Location: A3

Symposium: Influencing mobility choices and behaviours 

Organiser: Dimitrios Xenias

Influencing travel behaviour towards more sustainable and safer directions is increasingly important: behaviour change bares equal significance to technological solutions in order to mitigate global transport-related problems such as rising CO2 emissions (Skippon et al., 2012), reduce accidents, and combat local environmental (e.g., noise) and health issues (e.g., local pollutants such as particulate matter; Xenias & Whitmarsh, 2013). Interventions to encourage eco-driving behaviour have been tested previously, but they have usually been conducted in laboratories or over short periods, not able to alter entrenched driving habits. Encouraging safe driving practices (e.g. avoiding speeding and drinking) is affected by peer influences not sufficiently understood; while factors affecting the adoption of low emission vehicles or car-sharing are more complex than current –often information based- campaigns are designed to address. Five research groups from three European countries show how social influence might be a common way of addressing these issues, and contributing to more sustainable and safer mobility options and behaviours, with real world implications leading to effective market and policy measures.

Eco-Driving, habits and vehicle change: influencing driving behaviour in the real world

D. Xenias, L. Whitmarsh, P. Haggar, & S. Skippon

Effective interventions on reducing emissions from driving in real-world conditions are scarce. In a randomised controlled trial (RCT) study, aimed at promoting fuel efficient driving, we applied three interventions: (a) information provision – commonly used in public campaigns, (b) in-car feedback and (c) social influence. We also investigated the ‘Habit Discontinuity Hypothesis’ (Verplanken et al., 2008) in the context of car change, i.e. whether changing vehicle was an important disrupting event for driving habits. One hundred and sixty-five drivers reported their fuel consumption via weekly mileage and fuel receipts. Type of intervention did not account for measurable change in fuel consumption. Results also indicate some evidence that eco-driving habit strength increased over the duration of the study, particularly for the information provision condition. In-car feedback condition showed an increase in careful driving style. Although some of our findings contradict previous research, our RCT design allows confidence in our findings and suggests that real-world interventions to change driving style may be more problematic than previously thought. It may be hard to implement interventions to increase fuel efficiency in the real world: if an intervention does not lead to changes the drivers themselves can perceive and measure, it is rather unlikely to succeed.

Still underdetected – The impact of normative influence and collective efficacy on the adoption of electric vehicles

M. Barth, P. Jugert, & I. Fritsche

Experts in transportation policies as well as lay people are likely to misrepresent the relative weight of personal cost-benefit and social psychological factors in determining people’s travel-mode choice. The results of two interview studies suggest that experts and lay people perceive cost-benefit factors as most important for the acceptance of electric vehicles whereas group-related processes are considered much less important. In a survey study, we then empirically compared the relative predictive value of cost-benefit related attitudes and social-psychological variables like norms and collective efficacy. Analyses of the survey data showed that norms and collective efficacy have equal or even stronger effects on acceptance. Results from an additional experimental study underline the importance of norms for adoption intentions. Our norms manipulation increased acceptance and this effect was fully mediated by a stronger perception of positive prescriptive norms. Notably, we also found indirect effects for collective efficacy and diagnosticity (i.e. the predictive value of the current situation for future mobility behavior). The indirect effects remained significant when we controlled for cost-related factors.

Purchase of electric vehicles – early adopters in the German showcase region Baden-Württemberg

E. Dütschke & A. Peters

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been promoted for some time as a way of making transport more sustainable. However, there are still relatively few EVs on the streets. This paper analyses the consumer perspective on the purchase of EVs within the German showcase region for electric mobility in Baden-Württemberg. It draws on Rogers’ diffusion of innovation model (2003) in order to identify and analyse consumer groups varying in their likelihood to adopt EVs. For this analysis we use data from an online survey (N = 1798) conducted in December 2014 in this region. We discuss the relevant factors for the decision to purchase an EV as well as sociodemographic characteristics of different consumer groups. The results are compared to characteristics of corresponding consumer groups in the whole of Germany in 2010. According to preliminary results, in both surveys the importance of social norms is higher for the respondents who state a lower interest in EVs. In 2014, social norms with regard to adoption of EVs seem to have developed slightly more positively compared to 2010. Based on the results, we discuss conclusions regarding differences as well as promising measures for further market development.