An examination of the relationship between social interactions and travel uncertainty

2013-11-07T14:00:52Z (GMT) by Tim Ryley Alberto Zanni
Recent advances in travel behaviour research hypothesise that travellers, in particular under uncertain conditions, take a number of decisions not in total independence but as members of a social network. The travel decisions could relate to a range of choices including transport mode choice and time of departure. This paper seeks to provide an answer to the following question: Do travellers, both prior and during travelling, refer to their social network when taking travel decisions in uncertain conditions? An internet-based survey was conducted with over 2000 respondents in the two United Kingdom cities of London and Glasgow. Respondents were asked to name those within their social network and to provide information on their contacts including age, gender, relationship length, car availability, and the type and frequency of social interaction. Insights are also provided from the analysis of relationships between an individual's socio-demographic characteristics, their ego-centric social network, their social interactions and the location in which they live, through the use of clusters analysis, and how this links to two key travel behaviour aspects: who respondents would turn to in particular for advice on travel decisions, and who (and why) they would contact, if they were experiencing an uncertain situation while travelling. It is shown that the first named member of the social network member is a key person for individuals facing travel uncertainty, and that individuals will turn to others, often within their social network, for emotional as well as decision-making support. In addition, older people, those with a lower number of contacts, and those living in smaller households are more likely to decide by themselves in uncertain travel situations. © 2013 The Authors.