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Interpersonal Influence within Car Buyers’ Social Networks: Five Perspectives on Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Demonstration Participants

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  • Axsen, Jonn
  • Kurani, Kenneth S.
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    Abstract

    To explore the role of social interactions in individuals’ assessments of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), this study analyzes over 190 social (interpersonal) interactions elicited in interviews with 31 individuals in eight different social networks centered on households in the Sacramento, California region. Results are framed within five theoretical perspectives on social influence: contagion, conformity, dissemination, translation, and reflexivity. Responses within networks centered on participants in a study of consumer response to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) suggest that interpersonal interactions do shape consumers assessments of PHEVs, and likely electric-drive vehicles generally. Characterizing how social interactions influence vehicle assessments and adoption behaviors, contagion (including diffusion of innovations), conformity, and dissemination provide useful concepts, but translation and reflexivity better provide the language and theoretical depth required to integrate the various motives and perceptions observed. Through translation and reflexivity, preliminary analysis suggests that certain types of households and social network may be more amenable to developing new, pro-societal interpretations of vehicle technology—particularly those households that: i) are in a liminal state in their lifestyle practices, ii) already have a basic understanding of functional aspects of PHEV technology, and iii) find supportive pro-societal values within their social network. This exploratory, qualitative study demonstrates that social interactions are important and their study benefits from the development and use of behaviorally realistic theoretical frameworks to advance transportation and energy policies that rely on the widespread uptake of new technologies.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis in its series Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series with number qt35w7s3jp.

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    Date of creation: 08 Aug 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:cdl:itsdav:qt35w7s3jp

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    Keywords: UCD-ITS-WP-09-04; Engineering;

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    1. Steg, Linda, 2005. "Car use: lust and must. Instrumental, symbolic and affective motives for car use," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 147-162.
    2. Axsen, Jonn & Mountain, Dean C. & Jaccard, Mark, 2009. "Combining stated and revealed choice research to simulate the neighbor effect: The case of hybrid-electric vehicles," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 221-238, August.
    3. Mau, Paulus & Eyzaguirre, Jimena & Jaccard, Mark & Collins-Dodd, Colleen & Tiedemann, Kenneth, 2008. "The 'neighbor effect': Simulating dynamics in consumer preferences for new vehicle technologies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 504-516, December.
    4. Axsen, Jonn & Mountain, Dean C. & Jaccard, Mark, 2009. "Combining stated and revealed choice research to simulate the neighbor effect: The case of hybrid-electric vehicles," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt02n9j6cv, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    5. Hirschman, Elizabeth C, 1980. " Innovativeness, Novelty Seeking, and Consumer Creativity," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 283-95, December.
    6. Antonio P�ez & Darren M Scott, 2007. "Social influence on travel behavior: a simulation example of the decision to telecommute," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 39(3), pages 647-665, March.
    7. Heffner, Reid R., 2007. "Semiotics and Advanced Vehicles: What Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) Mean and Why it Matters to Consumers," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt9mw1t4w3, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    8. Juan Antonio Carrasco & Bernie Hogan & Barry Wellman & Eric J Miller, 2008. "Collecting social network data to study social activity-travel behavior: an egocentric approach," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 35(6), pages 961-980, November.
    9. Bunch, David S. & Bradley, Mark & Golob, Thomas F. & Kitamura, Ryuichi & Occhiuzzo, Gareth P., 1993. "Demand for clean-fuel vehicles in California: A discrete-choice stated preference pilot project," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 237-253, May.
    10. David Calef & Robert Goble, 2007. "The allure of technology: How France and California promoted electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce urban air pollution," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 1-34, March.
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