Experience or Memory: Happiness of Commuting

TitleExperience or Memory: Happiness of Commuting
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsJinhua Zhao, Joanne Lee
Conference NameTransportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting
PublisherTransportation Research Board
Conference LocationWashington, D.C.

While happiness is recognized as a universal goal in life, the morning and evening commutes were found to be two of the three activities of the day that most often register negative emotions. Seeing the need to improve commuter happiness and satisfaction, the transportation research sector has developed a myriad of studies on happiness and commuting. The state of the art, while extensive, is lacking in detail in both the happiness definition depth and commuting experience richness. This research aims to provide a comprehensive examination of commuting happiness by differentiating commuting happiness into affective and cognitive components and then quantifying the contribution of socioeconomics and commuting experience variables through Structural Equation Models (SEMs). 2000 North Americans who commute for work or school were surveyed with Mechanical Turk. The results show most measures of commuting happiness and satisfaction to be heavily dependent on comfort and reliability ratings, particularly at the negative end of the spectrum. The commuting experience better explains cognitive happiness than affective happiness, and for both, the completeness of latest day’s models is truer to the actual experience than that of a typical day’s travel.