Revealing psychological inertia in mode shift behavior and its quantitative influences on commuting trips
Journal article, 2020

The inertia effects stemmed from repeated past behavior have been investigated by both psychology and transportation studies because of its bearing on explaining human mobility and forecasting travel demand. However, the existing literature from psychology does not strictly control potential endogeneity due to ignorance of detailed level-of-service (LOS) variables of alternatives and rational preference in the analysis. Quantitative transportation studies are insufficient in providing explicit behavior mechanisms. This paper aims to fill the gaps by empirically examining the effects of irrational psychological inertia in mode shift behavior with controlling potential endogeneity. A specific-designed comparison experiment is conducted to demonstrate the existence of psychological inertia in mode shift behavior. The effects of dominance in LOS variables and rational preference towards a certain transport mode are controlled to eliminate potential endogeneity in the analysis. The results demonstrate that after controlling the above-mentioned endogeneity, both car and metro users show significantly and substantially larger predilections to previously used transport mode in mode shift scenarios without overturning travel contexts than those in new context mode choice scenarios with noticeable changes in travel contexts. The results support that psychological inertia plays a significant role in mode shift behavior after controlling potential endogeneity. Moreover, this study utilizes hybrid choice modeling to quantitatively measure the effect of psychological inertia. The relationships between travelers’ characteristics and strength of psychological inertia are analyzed as well to shed light on heterogeneity in the strength of psychological inertia. The findings provide solid evidence of psychological inertia in mode shift behavior by a novel method and provide an approach to measure the quantitative effects of psychological inertia along with empirical studies.

Hybrid choice modeling

Travel behavior


Comparison analysis

Inertia effect


Kun Gao

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, GeoEngineering

Ying Yang

Australian Catholic University

Lijun Sun

Tongji University

Ministry of Education China

Xiaobo Qu

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, GeoEngineering

Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour

1369-8478 (ISSN)

Vol. 71 272-287

System-Of-Systems for efficient Emergency Response and smart mobility (SoSER)

VINNOVA (2018-04996), 2019-04-01 -- 2022-04-01.

Subject Categories

Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

Transport Systems and Logistics

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified



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