Prof. Elisabetta Cherchi

DTU, Lyngby, Denmark

October 23, 2015, 12:15, Room GC C3 30 (click here for the map)

Measuring the effect of social conformity in individuals' preference for electric vehicles

According to Crutchfield (1955) individuals consciously or unconsciously tend to "yield to group pressures" and consequently to act in agreement to the majority position. Social conformity has been extensively studied in psychology with also several applications to transport problems. Field experiments are typically used to evaluate the impact of social influence on self-reported changes toward environmentally sustainable transport behaviours. In this research, we discuss various aspects of social conformity and present a stated preference experiment set up to measure their effect on individual preferences. The choice of electric cars is used as an illustrative example. In particular, we explicitly measure how individuals' preference change before and after they have received social information on other's experience about driving range, about the need to adapt the activity schedule and about the benefit of parking policies. The effect of descriptive norm and other-signalling concern are also measured as part of the stated preference experiment, while injunctive norms are measured with typical statements on a 7-point Likert scale. Results from the estimation of mixed logit model and hybrid choice models, clearly confirms that the experience (especially negative) of other people has a powerful effect on individual preferences for range and parking policies. Results also confirm that individuals' behaviour is affected by the image they want other people to have of them, making them "more honest" in their answers.


Elisabetta Cherchi is Associate Professor at the Department of Transport, Technical University of Denmark, where she is also Deputy Head of the Ph.D. school in Transport. She is Area Editor of Transportation, and member of the editorial board of Transportation Research part B, Journal of Choice Modelling and Transport Policy. She is also Secretary and Treasurer of the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research (IATBR). Her research interest is in data collection, in the behavioural background of demand modelling and in how to use and expand it to study emerging problems such as understanding what drives sustainable transport behaviour and how it can be promoted.