Car Pride and its Bidirectional Relations with Car Ownership: Case Studies in New York City and Houston

TitleCar Pride and its Bidirectional Relations with Car Ownership: Case Studies in New York City and Houston
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsJoanna Moody, Jinhua Zhao
JournalTransportation Research Part A
Date Published06/2019
Keywordscar ownership, car pride, Houston, New York City, structural equation modeling

The car fulfills not only instrumental transportation functions, but also holds important symbolic and affective meaning for its owners and users. In particular, owning and using a car can be a symbol of an individual’s social status or personal image (‘car pride’). This paper introduces and validates a standard measure of car pride estimated from 12 survey statements using a cross-sectional sample of 1,236 commuters in New York City and Houston metropolitan statistical areas. We find that car pride is higher in Houston than in New York City. We then empirically examine the bidirectional relation between car pride (attitude) and household car ownership (behavior) using structural equation modeling. To identify the bidirectional relationship we use an individual’s general pride as the instrumental variable (IV) for that same individual’s car pride; in the opposite direction, we use the average household vehicle ownership in the respondent’s census block group as the IV for the respondent’s household car ownership. We find that positive and statistically significant relations exist between car pride and car ownership in both directions. However, on average and in both city subsamples, the relation from car pride to household car ownership (attitude-to-behavior) is much stronger than the reverse (behavior-to-attitude). In fact, in our models car pride is more predictive of car ownership than most individual and household socio-demographics included in traditional ownership forecasting models, including income. Empowered with a well-validated, standard measure for car pride and a robust approach for exploring reciprocal attitude-behavior relations in cross-sectional data, future research can extend the current understanding presented in this paper to explore car pride’s relation with other travel behaviors, the dynamics of these attitude-behavior relations over time, and their implications for policies to promote sustainable travel behavior.

Cite as: Moody, Joanna and Jinhua Zhao. 2019. Car pride and its bidirectional relations with car ownership: Case studies in New York City and Houston. Transportation Research Part A: Planning and Policy, 124: 334-353.