Emotional Travel: Pride, Dependence and Social Bias

Transportation is often seen as a mundane daily chore. However at JTL we appreciate travel as charged with emotional and attitudinal associations, such as car pride, car dependence, environmental consciousness, implicit social bias in mode choice, anxiety while waiting for a bus, and nervousness or excitement when riding an autonomous vehicle. We contend that such cognizance has substantive impact on how we understand travel with behavioral realism, and how we change behavior with more creative technology and policy instruments. We bring social psychology to bear on travel behavior, examining the emotional and attitudinal motivations underlining travel decisions, comparing mobility cultures across different countries, and embedding them in the transportation system and policy design.

Car Pride: Psychological Structure and Behavioral Implications

People often take pride in owning and using cars, but little is known about how pride affects travel behavior. Using a conceptual framework from emotional psychology, we define car pride as the cognitive evaluation of, and emotional response to, the positive self-representation elicited by car ideation. We empirically measure car pride based on a survey of Shanghai residents, and reveal that: i. car ownership leads to higher car pride; ii. car pride is positively correlated with preferences for newer, more expensive, larger cars; iii. car pride significantly motivates car use; and iv. car pride is positively correlated with intentions to to buy a new car, choose a luxury car, and avoid car use reduction. 

Team: Zhan Zhao and Jinhua Zhao

Publication: Zhao, Zhan, and Jinhua Zhao. "Car Pride: Psychological Structure and Behavioral Implications."

A Subjective Measure of Car Dependence

A subjective measure of car dependence was developed on the basis of people’s own assessment of their reliance on car use. The measure supplements the commonly used objective measure on the basis of actual car use. Structural equation models (SEMs) were estimated to quantify the subjective dependence and to examine its determinants: demographics, socioeconomics, and land use and transit access. The comparison between subjective dependence and actual car use disclosed significant differences between the measures, despite their statistical linkage. The SEMs are used to examine relations between subjective car dependence (attitude), actual car use (behavior), and the intent to reduce car use (intention). 

Team: Jinhua Zhao

PublicationsZhao, Jinhua. "A Subjective Measure of Car Dependence." Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2231 (2011).

The Rise and Decline of the Bicycle in Beijing

The strong tradition of bicycle use in Beijing has been in continuous decline since the mid1990s with bicycle share of vehicular traffic dropping from 62.7% in 1986 to 38.5% in 2000 and dropping even lower to 16.4% in 2010. Among various factors contributing to the rise and fall of bicycle use in Beijing, four are identified as having the greatest impact: policy and regulation, built environment, bicycle industry and socio-economic conditions. Through a historical review and analysis of the relationship between bicycle use change and the four factors mentioned above, this article reveals the following: (1) the historically inherited, grid street network system and the low rise, high-density housing form contained fundamental features that favoured cycling; (2) the integration of non-motorized modes in the road network, as well as the growing bicycle industry and moderately increased income were major contributing factors of the bicycle boom from the early-1980s to mid-1990s; (3) the National Automobile Industry Policy published in 1994 had a detrimental impact, triggered a dramatic decline of bicycle use. The city’s current transportation planning lacks not only a real interest in sustaining the tradition of bicycle use, but also a clear target and an integrated approach for reviving bicycle use. However, the strong existing bicycle industry, the remaining high level of bicycle ownership, and the shrinking but still preserved bicycle route networks in the city provide solid foundation for a more progressive bicycle planning policy.

Team: Ming Yang, Qiuning Wang, Jinhua Zhao, John Zacharias

Publication: Ming Yang, Qiuning Wang, Jinhua Zhao, John Zacharias (2014) The Rise and Decline of the Bicycle in Beijing, Transportation Research Board (TRB) 93rd Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.

Mode-ism: Explicit and Implicit Social Status Bias in Car vs. Bus Mode Choice

Understanding attitudinal biases that influence mode choice is important to inform travel demand model estimation as well as policy decisions aimed at changing people’s travel behavior (particularly mode choice). This study measures people’s social status biases towards cars and buses using an implicit association test (IAT) and survey questionnaire. Studying mode preference using IAT captures not the stated or conscious preference of individuals (as in our self-report survey questions), but the subconscious associations that shape people’s preferences. In addition to capturing subconscious bias and preferences, IAT may also capture factors that are hard to measure with traditional survey techniques and mode-choice models. 

Team: J. Moody, G. Goulet-Langlois, J. Campbell, L. Alexander, J. Zhao

Publication: J. Moody, G. Goulet-Langlois, J. Campbell, L. Alexander, J. Zhao (2016). Measuring Explicit and Implicit Social Status Bias in Car vs. Bus Mode Choice. Transportation Research Board Annual Conference.

My brain at the bus stop: an exploratory framework for applying EEG-based emotion detection techniques in transportation study

Emotion has important implications on travel decisions and behaviors. Emotions related to transportation have usually been assessed using opinion-based and other qualitative methods. The advances in electroencephalographic (EEG) algorithms and hardware now provide new possibilities for assessing emotions in real time and using quantitative data. This paper describes the features of the EEG-based emotion detection technique, presents a framework for the experiment design process, and discusses its application in the context of public transportation with reference to a pilot experiment in Cambridge, MA, using a portable EEG neuro-headset to measure the emotion change during the experience of waiting for a bus. Other areas in transportation study might also take advantage of this technique and gain new insights into travel emotion and behavior.

Team: Zelin Li, Fabio Duarte, Zhan Zhao and Jinhua Zhao

Publication: Zelin Li, Fabio Duarte, Zhan Zhao and Jinhua Zhao  (2015) My brain at the bus stop: an exploratory framework for applying EEG-based emotion detection techniques in transportation study, working paper

A ride to remember: experienced vs. remembered emotion on public transit

Prior research has shown disconnects between the subjective well-being a person experiences during an event and the subjective well-being the same individual remembers once the event has passed. Despite the differences that exist between experience and memory, memory is often used as a basis for making decisions about the future. Measures of utility in transportation decision models have begun to incorporate concepts of subjective well-being. A better understanding of the differences between experience and memory will allow researchers to understand the human decision making process more accurately. This paper describes a survey used to examine differences between experience and memory for riders of public transit. The survey was given to people riding the Boston subway system and respondents were asked to rate the emotions they felt during their trip on several scales. Later, a follow-up survey was given where respondents rated the emotions they remembered feeling on the previously surveyed trip using the same scales. The results of this survey show that there is a statistically significant difference between the emotional net affect reported during the trip and in the follow-up survey. Respondents indicated significantly more emotional satisfaction while onboard than they did when recalling the trip. Significant differences were also found specifically in feelings of comfort and boredom. This research indicates that the subjective well-being which people experience during a trip is not the same as they remember from it, which has possible impacts on the understanding and modeling of transportation decision-making.

Team: Nate Bailey, Patton Doyle, Tolu Ogunbekun, Jinhua Zhao

Publication: Nate Bailey, Patton Doyle, Tolu Ogunbekun, Jinhua Zhao (2016) A ride to remember: experienced vs. remembered emotion on public transit, Transportation Research Board Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.

Related Theses 

Maria Curro 2012 Senior's Perception around Driving Cessation: A Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Cultural Perspective, Thesis Advisor Jinhua Zhao

Zak Bennett 2013 Value, Aspiration, and Policy: How (and Why) Tomorrow’s Middle Class Moves, Thesis Advisor Jinhua Zhao

Rupert Campbell 2013 Prestige on Wheels: Life Aspirations and Implications for Transportation Planning, Thesis Advisor Jinhua Zhao

Zhan Zhao 2013 Understanding Car Pride, Thesis Advisor Jinhua Zhao

Qiuning Wang 2012 A Shrinking Path for Bicycles: A Historical Review of Bicycle Use in Beijing, Thesis Advisor Jinhua Zhao and John Friedmann