Six Principles of Persuasion to Promote Community-Based Travel Behavior Change

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, organisation - management, planning - travel demand management, ridership - demand


Trip reduction, TravelSmart (Program : Victoria, Australia), Travel demand management, Travel behavior, Transportation demand management, TDM measures, Strategies, Strategic planning, Sociodemographic variables, Social psychology, Priorities, Persuasion (Psychology), Objectives, Melbourne (Australia), Goals, Community action programs, Behavior modification


Social psychology offers a series of persuasion techniques that are able to strengthen the impact of travel demand management programs. This is particularly the case for community-based programs of voluntary travel behavior change such as the TravelSmart programs currently being conducted in Melbourne, Australia. This paper presents the results of an experiment that has applied six particular persuasion techniques as part of a community-based TravelSmart campaign. In a pilot test of 160 households, combinations of persuasion elements were tested with eight different treatment groups while a number of sociodemographic variables were controlled. Although the results were not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level because of a limited sample size, the results indicated an increase in the rate of participation when persuasion strategies were integrated into the TravelSmart recruitment process. Modeling of the intervention uptake as a function of sociodemographic variables indicated the problem of linguistic barriers in association with a multicultural urban population. In contrast, bicycle availability and the current use of public transit both had positive impacts on TravelSmart participation. Initial analysis of the results from a larger field test of some 800 test and control households reinforced the positive impact of the persuasion strategies. Overall, the results indicate the need to explore an extension of the persuasion principles from their use in the recruitment process to all other implementation stages of voluntary travel behavior change programs.