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Counteracting the focusing illusion: Effects of defocusing on car users’ predicted satisfaction with public transport
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Service Research Center.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Service Research Center.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7006-9906
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Service Research Center.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7475-680X
2012 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Psychology, ISSN 0272-4944, E-ISSN 1522-9610, Vol. 32, no 1, p. 30-36Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Car users underestimate their potential satisfaction with public transport due to a focusing illusion (i.e., focusing on a too narrow range of aspects related to the focal event). To investigate whether a defocusing technique would increase car users’ predicted satisfaction with public transport, the effects of defocusing techniques, generic (Study 1) and self-relevant (Study 2), were investigated. In Study 1 (estimate daily time spent on ten pre-selected activities), the generic defocusing technique did not generate higher predicted satisfaction with public transport. In Study 2, the self-relevant defocusing technique generated higher predicted satisfaction on quality attributes, namely satisfaction with the number of departures, the number of available seats and the condition of the vehicles, in comparison with controls. It is concluded that the self-relevant defocusing technique applied in Study 2 (state your various everyday activities and describe how much time you engage in them) was successful in making car users take into account activities in life that will remain unchanged if they were to use public transport for their daily travel. Additionally, in Studies 1 and 2, it was found that car-use habit, regardless of the experimental condition, influenced the magnitude of predicted satisfaction, that is, the higher the car-use habit, the lower the predicted satisfaction with public transport.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 32, no 1, p. 30-36
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8785DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2011.10.004ISI: 000300141500004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-8785DiVA, id: diva2:458010
Available from: 2011-11-21 Created: 2011-11-21 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Affective Forecasting in Travel Mode Choice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Affective Forecasting in Travel Mode Choice
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The general aim of this thesis was to investigate affective forecasting in the context of public transport.

Paper I, Study 1 revealed that non-users of public transport were less satisfied with the services than users. It was hypothesised that non-users were biased in their satisfaction ratings, a claim that was subsequently investigated in Paper I, Study 2, where a field experiment revealed that car users suffer from an impact bias, due to being more satisfied with the services after a trial period than they predicted they would be. To address the question of whether a focusing illusion is the psychological mechanism responsible for this bias, two experiments containing critical incidents were conducted in Paper II. These experiments investigated whether car users exaggerate the impact that specific incidents have on their future satisfaction with public transport. A negative critical incident generated lower predicted satisfaction with public transport, both for car users with a stated intention to change their current travel mode (in Paper II, Study 1) and for car users with no stated intention to change their travel mode (in Paper II, Study 2), which support the hypothesis that the impact bias in car users’ predictions about future satisfaction with public transport is caused by a focusing illusion. Paper III showed that car users misremember their satisfaction with public transport as a result of their recollections of satisfaction with public transport being lower than their on-line experienced satisfaction. Additionally, the desire to repeat the public transport experience is explained only by remembered satisfaction, not by on-line experienced satisfaction. Paper IV investigated whether a defocusing technique would counteract the focusing illusion by introducing a broader context, thereby generating higher predicted satisfaction. A generic defocusing technique, conducted in Paper IV, Study 1, did not generate higher predicted satisfaction, whereas a self-relevant defocusing technique conducted in Paper IV, Study 2 generated higher predicted satisfaction with public transport. Additionally, it was found that car-use habit accounts for the level of predicted satisfaction regardless of defocusing; the stronger the car-use habit, the lower the predicted satisfaction.

The conclusions from this thesis are that non-users of public transport rate the services lower than users do, and that car users become more satisfied when using the services than they predicted. These mispredictions are a result of over-focusing on a limited range of aspects in public transport (i.e., a focusing illusion). Car users’ desire to repeat the public transport experience is influenced by their inaccurate memories of the services and not by their actual experiences. However, defocusing techniques may help car users make more accurate predictions about future satisfaction with public transport; this could facilitate a mode switch from using the car to using public transport services more often. Switching to a more sustainable transport mode could be beneficial for the individual and for society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstad University, 2011. p. 33
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2011:58
Keywords
Affective Forecasting, Satisfaction, Focusing Illusion, Defocusing, Public Transport, Travel Mode Choice
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8685 (URN)978-91-7063-396-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-12-09, Erlandersalen, 11D 227, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-11-21 Created: 2011-10-26 Last updated: 2011-11-21Bibliographically approved

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Pedersen, ToreKristensson, PerFriman, Margareta

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