The evidence is pretty clear that large life shifts such as a new job or new home are the biggest drivers of getting people to reconsider – hopefully with sustainability, health, cost, and other benefits in mind – the ways they regularly travel from place to place.
But a recent study of people in Berlin, Germany by environmental psychologist Sebastian Bamberg from FH Bielefeld discovered some other factors at work, according to this summary in Eltis:
Why is it that hard for people to switch modes and what determines our behavior?
One reason is in the social character of humans. We determine our behavior in some part by looking at others’ behavior and what they like or do not like to do. Bamberg refers to a simple example from his own background: “My wife is driving an e-car recently. She is a vet and many of her clients trust her. You wouldn’t believe how many are now asking her about the e-car. Her clients may have an abstract idea about driving an e-car. But they want to learn from a person that they trust whether this works out in real life, since this increases the credibility of the story.”
Social norms and behavior are adjusted again and again by such conversations with people we trust, who we consider to be role-models. For example, if a colleague started cycling to work, one might consider doing the same sooner or later.
Many people tend to take their car as a result of the business-as-usual patterns of life.