Dissonance and commute satisfaction: Which reference point to use?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, land use - transit oriented development, planning - surveys, ridership - commuting, ridership - perceptions, ridership - modelling


Commute satisfaction, Commute time dissonance, Reference-dependent utility, Mobility biography, Ordered logit


One of the determinants of travel satisfaction is ‘dissonance’, or the difference between someone’s actual travel and their preferred or ideal travel. Previous studies never questioned the use of ideal travel as a reference point to assess travel satisfaction. We assess how and to what extent changes in commute dissonance, among other determinants, affect commute satisfaction by applying the prospect theory with alternative reference points. Results indicate that negative dissonant commuters (i.e., actual commute time > ideal) are significantly less satisfied with their commute, but the opposite does not hold. By using data from a retrospective survey among staff of the relocated McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada, we found how the reference point of the previous commute time is more salient and impactful. This study provides evidence for policy makers about the positive effects of transit oriented developments in terms of increased levels of commute satisfaction.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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