International Choice Modelling Conference, International Choice Modelling Conference 2017

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A Goal-Based Analysis of Travel Behaviour Dynamics: Are Intrapersonal Changes in Latent Modal Preferences Associated with Shifts in Personal Goals?
Rico Krueger, Taha Hossein Rashidi, Akshay Vij

Last modified: 28 March 2017



To inform long-term planning processes, travel behaviour research has developed a strong interest in studying intra- and inter-personal variability of transport mode use (Scheiner et al., 2016). In this vein, the concept of latent modal preferences, which characterise an individual’s behavioural predisposition towards different modes, has been introduced (Vij et al., 2013). In essence, the concept of latent modal preferences is based on the idea of heterogenous consideration sets, i.e. individuals exhibit varying levels of inclination towards and awareness of different transport modes (Vij, 2013).

In cross-sectional contexts, the concept of latent modal preferences is well-established and empirically validated (Krueger et al., 2016; Prato et al., 2016; Vij et al., 2013; Vij and Walker, 2013). In addition, the literature has sought to operationalise the concept of latent modal preferences in longitudinal contexts to explain intrapersonal variability in latent modal preferences (Kroesen, 2014; Vij, 2013; Xiong et al., 2015). Whilst this literature evidences intrapersonal variability of latent modal preferences and relates intrapersonal preferences dynamics to observable phenomena such as life events including the birth of a child or retirement etc., it does not address the cognitive and behavioural processes underlying intrapersonal preference dynamics.

In consumer behaviour research, the analysis of intrapersonal preference dynamics has received considerable scholarly attention (Bronnenberg et al., 2012; Erdem, 1996; Guhl, 2014; Lachaab et al., 2006). In the context of intrapersonal dynamics of latent modal preferences, we conjecture that the goal-based perspective (Kopetz et al., 2012) offers a particularly compelling narrative. The goal-based perspective posits that the consumption of a good or service is a means to the end of goal attainment, whereby a goal is conceived as a latent motivational construct. Goals systems are defined as complex structures of multiple goals and subordinate objectives, whereby the components of individual goals systems may be both stable and variant over time. Furthermore, goals have been considered in the analysis of dynamic consideration set formation (Paulssen and Bagozzi, 2005; Souza, 2015). Consideration sets are conceived as dynamic fuzzy sets, whereby the degree of membership of an alternative in an individual’s consideration set is assumed to be a function of a repeated subjective assessments of the effectiveness of the alternative to attain one’s goals (Paulssen and Bagozzi, 2005).


Research objective

A critical review of the literature dealing with the analysis of intrapersonal dynamics of latent modal preferences shows that the cognitive processes, which lead to intrapersonal variability of latent modal preferences, have not been sufficiently addressed. Following Vij’s (2013) contention that heterogeneous consideration sets over different transport modes are paramount to latent modal preferences, we conjecture that dynamic consideration set formation mediates intrapersonal changes in latent modal preferences. Likewise, research on the dynamics of consideration set formation in consumer psychology suggests that the selection of considered alternatives from a universal set may be a goal-driven process. Hence, we are motivated to address the following research question: Are intrapersonal changes in latent modal preferences associated with shifts in personal goals?


Methodological approach

We devise a conceptual model framework for the dynamic, goal-based analysis of latent modal preferences. For simplicity, we restrict our framework to the analysis of two time periods. In each time period, the levels of consideration of different transport modes are explained by both observable characteristics of the decision-makers and by personal goals systems.

To empirically validate the conceptual framework, i.e. to test whether changes in latent modal preferences are associated with shifts in personal goals, we conduct an online survey, which includes a partially retrospective collection of data. A total of 200 valid responses are expected to be obtained from an online subject pool. The survey instrument involves a self-administered web-based questionnaire to collect information about respondents’ travel behaviour and goal orientations at two points in time. The first of two sections of the survey concerned the present, while the second section required respondents to retrospectively report information for a point in time two to ten years ago. Priming techniques are employed to activitate respondents’ memory of their past life situations. These priming techniques are evocative of memories surrounding significant, and thus easy to recall, life events.

For the data analysis, we employ a latent curve model in conjunction with Bayesian estimation (Song and Lee, 2012). A latent curve model is a variation of a full generalised structural equation model for the analysis of longitudinal psychometric data (Bollen and Curran, 2006). The Bayesian inference approach is chosen due to its favourable properties in the presence of complex model structures, ordinal data and small sample sizes (Song and Lee, 2012).


Within the limitations of our study design, i.e. the non-representativeness of the sample and the retrospective data collection, we expect that the results of our study will corroborate our initial hypothesis, i.e. intrapersonal changes in latent modal preferences are associated with changes in personal goals systems.


Statement of contribution

The contribution of our work is fourfold: First, we introduce the goal-based perspective of preference dynamics into travel behaviour analysis, by investigating whether intrapersonal changes in latent modal preferences are associated with shifs in personal goals. Second, our study highlights that more profound insights about observable changes in behaviour can be generated, by accounting for the cognitive processes underlying the behavioural change. Third, our research makes a case for measuring goal-based constructs in longitudinal travel behaviour surveys to better understand observed changes in travel behaviour. Fourth, our findings yield policy insights and managerial implications. As intrapersonal changes in latent modal preferences may be goal-based, the successful uptake of a new mobility option may be subject to the degree, to which travellers perceive the new mobility options to be an effective means for the attainment of their goals.



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