Travel Behavior as a Driver of Attitude: Car Use and Car Pride in U.S. Cities

TitleTravel Behavior as a Driver of Attitude: Car Use and Car Pride in U.S. Cities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsJoanna Moody, Jinhua Zhao
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour

Individuals attribute social status and personal image to owning and using a car (‘car pride’), which may interact with their travel behavior in complex ways. This study explores the multi-directional relations among car pride, car ownership, and car use for a sample of 1,236 adult commuters in New York City, NY and Houston, TX. Applying multivariate structural equation modeling and incorporating instrumental variables, we find evidence of a feedback loop among car pride, car ownership, and car use. Our results suggest that an individual with higher car pride is more likely to own a vehicle, and, enabled with this ownership, use it more frequently. And individuals who use their car more frequently are likely to feel more pride in owning and using their vehicles.

This exploration of causal multi-directionality in transportation attitude-behavior relations has important implications for behavioral research, model development, and policy interventions. For researchers, potential bidirectionality must be anticipated from the outset of research design and accounted for appropriately in modeling to address underlying endogeneity. For policymakers, our results suggest that there are multiple intervention points within the reinforcing cycle of attitudes and car consumption. Policies could directly target car ownership and use or could consider influencing behavior through attitude change.