Global versus localised attitudinal responses in discrete choice

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - modelling


Attitude–behaviour gap, Stability of attitudes, Choice model, Change in WTP


Despite the increasing popularity of including attitudinal and perceptual indicators within discrete choice models, debate endures as to whether there exists a causative relationship between attitudes and behaviour, resulting in what has been termed the attitude behaviour gap. In attempt to understand its origins, attitudes have been categorised as global or localised according to whether or not they are related to a specific time, context and action. Under this framework, global attitudes (GA) typically result in poor predictions of specific overt behaviours, whilst attitudes toward behaviour, or localised attitudes (LA), tend to be better predictors of actual outcomes. Also, attitude strength, measured as the accessibility in memory, plays a determinant role in reducing the gap between attitudes and behaviour, with “memory-based” attitudes having a better prediction of overt behaviours than short-term attitudes constructed “on the spot”. The specific focus of the current paper is to examine the temporal stability and the nature of attitudes, being it critical to transportation planning and research considering the controversial link between attitudes and behaviour. An in depth analysis of the different types of attitudes towards satisfaction for train trips reveals that GAs and LAs provide moderately different outcomes. Also, a memory effect has been found, suggesting the connection between attitudes created on the spot and those stored in memory. Further, both GAs and LAs impact significantly on individual preferences. Finally, the omission of LAs, which are rarely employed within transport literature, may potentially lead to inconsistent estimates, as their contribution in explaining the choice will be absorbed by the error term.


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