Do attitudes cause behavior or vice versa? An alternative conceptualization of the attitude-behavior relationship in travel behavior modeling

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77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Attitudes are thought to play an important role in determining people's travel behavior, although researchers have acknowledged the possibility of a reverse relationship. Given the importance of knowledge about the direction of causation as a basis for policies and programs designed to effect behavioral change, the scarcity of in-depth research on this subject is surprising and problematic. The aim of the present paper is twofold: first to assess the bidirectional relationships between attitudes and behavior (in a transport context) and second to present a new framework to study attitude-behavior (in)consistency over time. To achieve these aims, we use data from a two-wave mobility panel to estimate cross-lagged panel models and latent transition models. Results indicate that use of a mode and the attitude towards using that mode mutually influence each other over time. As expected, we find that people who have dissonant (i.e., non-aligned) attitude-behavior patterns are less stable than those who have consonant patterns. Contrary to conventional wisdom and commonly used model structures, however, the effects of behaviors on attitudes are much larger than vice versa. That is, dissonant travelers are more inclined to adjust their attitudes to align those with their behavior than vice versa. Based on these results, we outline several implications for research and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-202
Number of pages13
JournalTransportation Research. Part A: Policy & Practice
Volume101
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Causality
  • Cross-lagged panel model
  • Latent transition model
  • Theory of Cognitive Dissonance
  • Travel behavior

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