Title

MEANS OF TRANSPORT AND ONTOLOGICAL SECURITY: DO CARS PROVIDE PSYCHO-SOCIAL BENEFITS TO THEIR USERS?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2002

Subject Area

planning - surveys, ridership - mode choice, economics - benefits, mode - mass transit

Keywords

Transit, Surveys, Social benefits, Scotland, Public transit, Psychosocial aspects, Psychological effects, Psychological aspects, Protection, Prestige, Policy making, Ontological security, Mode choice, Modal choice, Mass transit, Local transit, Health, Demographics, Choice of transportation, Autonomy, Automobiles, Automobile ownership

Abstract

This paper presents data from an in-depth interview survey that explored whether cars provide psycho-social benefits that could potentially be health promoting. It is suggested that the psycho-social benefits of protection, autonomy and prestige may help to explain why people are attached to their cars and also why studies consistently have found that car owners are healthier than non-car owners. A sample of car owners and non-car owners in western Scotland were interviewed. Results showed that cars were seen to provide protection from undesirable people and events, and as a comfortable cocoon, but not as providing protection against accidents. Cars provided autonomy because car use was seen as more convenient and reliable, as well as providing access to more destinations than public transportation. Cars were also seen to confer socially desirable attributes such as prestige, competence, skill and masculinity. In this study, interviewees with different characteristics acquired varying amounts of psycho-social benefits from cars. This survey suggests that policymakers should consider targeting the different needs of various population groups and increasing public transit's potential to provide similar psycho-social benefits in order to make public transportation more attractive to prospective users.

Comments

Transportation Research Part D Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/13619209