Travel attitudes or behaviours: Which one changes when they conflict?

Laura McCarthy, Alexa Delbosc*, Maarten Kroesen, Mathijs de Haas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the ‘disagreement’ or dissonance between travel attitudes and behaviours. This has shown that when people experience travel-related dissonance they are less satisfied with their travel experience. However, what remains unclear is whether people experiencing dissonance are more likely to change their travel attitude or their behaviour, so that they are more closely aligned. Moreover, it is unclear whether and how life events, such as having a child, interact with creating or reducing travel-related dissonance. Using data from a large and well-designed longitudinal study, this paper addresses these two gaps in the literature on travel-related cognitive dissonance through an exploratory study. The findings suggest that dissonant travellers are more likely to change their segment membership than consonant travellers. Furthermore, in line with the theory of cognitive dissonance, people may adjust either their attitudes or behaviours to achieve a state of consonance. This suggests that policymakers should not only focus on subtle nudges aimed at changing attitudes (and subsequently behaviours) in desirable directions but also on implementing policies aimed at directly influencing behaviours, assuming that attitudes will follow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Life events
  • Travel behaviour


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