Breaking Habitualised Car Use with a ?soft-policy? Measure? - Effects of a Dialogue Marketing Campaign on New Citizens? Daily Mobility

Breaking Habitualised Car Use with a ?soft-policy? Measure? - Effects of a Dialogue Marketing Campaign on New Citizens? Daily Mobility


S Bamberg, R Farrokhikhiavi, RWTH Aachen University, DE



Everyday car use is a very stable behaviour. Besides car use rewarding infrastructural conditions the strong tendency of this behaviour to habitualize is viewed as an important reason of its stability. With ?habit? a form of automaticity in responding is meant that develops as people repeat actions in stable circumstances with rewarding consequences. The dependence of habits on stable environmental contexts simultaneously opens an effective way for breaking them: Context changes interrupt the automatically activated association between environmental cues and a specific behavioural pattern. In new contexts people must consciously re-evaluate their action options, which may motivate them for a deeper information processing. Thus in a new context the provision of credible information about alternative action options may have a substantial impact on the formation of action intentions and the actual behaviour. However, this strategy probably only works, when people have the expectation that under the new context the performance of a alternative behavioural option leads to better outcomes than the old habit. And when the intervention takes place as soon as possible after the context change: Context changes create a ?change sensitive time window? which closes quickly because of adaptation.

These ideas - supported by the results of a earlier study (Bamberg & Bickelbacher, 2006) - provide the background of a three-site-intervention study funded by the German Federal Ministry of transport. It was conducted 2008 in Frankfurt, Munich and Halle. Target group of the intervention were citizens recently moved to these three cities. The new citizens? addresses were obtained from the municipal registration offices. The citizens in every town were randomly assigned to one untreated control group (n = 1.200 per town) and three experimental groups (each group of 400 a town). One group per town receives only a standardised information package (city map with PT-lines, information about PT use). The second group got this package and additionally a service card participants could use for requesting further materials (about PT, car-sharing and cyling) and a one week free PT test ticket. The third experimental group received only this service card, to initiate a dialogue.

20 % to 25 % of group 2 and 3 sent back this service card. These people were - if possible - connected via phone and asked whether they need support for organising their daily mobility in the new town. Aim of the talk was to motivate people to test car use alternatives at their new residence. This study design allows not only a valid estimation whether marketing campaigns have an effect on peoples car use in their new residence but also to compare the effects of the standardised postal intervention with that of the personal phone counselling.

The evaluation (finished until March 2009) is based on data from 1.500 post intervention face-to-face-interviews.


Association for European Transport