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Cognitive cost in route choice with real-time information: An exploratory analysis


  • Gao, Song
  • Frejinger, Emma
  • Ben-Akiva, Moshe


Real-time traffic information is increasingly available to support route choice decisions by reducing the travel time uncertainty. However it is likely that a traveler cannot assess all available information on all alternative routes due to time constraints and limited cognitive capacity. This paper presents a model that is consistent with a general network topology and can potentially be estimated based on revealed preference data. It explicitly takes into account the information acquisition and the subsequent path choice. The decision to acquire information is assumed to be based on the cognitive cost involved in the search and the expected benefit defined as the expected increase in utility after the search. A latent class model is proposed, where the decision to search or not to search and the depth of the search are latent and only the final path choices are observed. A synthetic data set is used for the purpose of validation and ease of illustration. The data are generated from the postulated cognitive-cost model, and estimation results show that the true values of the parameters can be recovered with enough variability in the data. Two other models with simplifying assumptions of no information and full information are also estimated with the same set of data with significantly biased path choice utility parameters. Prediction results show that a smaller cognitive cost encourages information search on risky and fast routes and thus higher shares on those routes. As a result, the expected average travel time decreases and the variability increases. The no-information and full-information models are extreme cases of the more general cognitive-cost model in some cases, but not generally so, and thus the increasing ease of information acquisition does not necessarily warrant a full-information model.

Suggested Citation

  • Gao, Song & Frejinger, Emma & Ben-Akiva, Moshe, 2011. "Cognitive cost in route choice with real-time information: An exploratory analysis," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 916-926, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:45:y:2011:i:9:p:916-926

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frejinger, E. & Bierlaire, M., 2007. "Capturing correlation with subnetworks in route choice models," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 363-378, March.
    2. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    3. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2006. "Costly Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1043-1068, September.
    4. Caspar G. Chorus & Eric J. E. Molin & Bert Van Wee, 2005. "Use and Effects of Advanced Traveller Information Services (ATIS): A Review of the Literature," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 127-149, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Di, Xuan & He, Xiaozheng & Guo, Xiaolei & Liu, Henry X., 2014. "Braess paradox under the boundedly rational user equilibria," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 86-108.
    2. Di, Xuan & Liu, Henry X. & Pang, Jong-Shi & Ban, Xuegang (Jeff), 2013. "Boundedly rational user equilibria (BRUE): Mathematical formulation and solution sets," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 300-313.
    3. Di, Xuan & Liu, Henry X., 2016. "Boundedly rational route choice behavior: A review of models and methodologies," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 142-179.
    4. Hyard, Alexandra, 2012. "Cost-benefit analysis according to Sen: An application in the evaluation of transport infrastructures in France," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 707-719.
    5. Mouter, Niek & Annema, Jan Anne & van Wee, Bert, 2013. "Ranking the substantive problems in the Dutch Cost–Benefit Analysis practice," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 241-255.
    6. Habib, Khandker Nurul & Morency, Catherine & Trépanier, Martin & Salem, Sarah, 2013. "Application of an independent availability logit model (IAL) for route choice modelling: Considering bridge choice as a key determinant of selected routes for commuting in Montreal," Journal of choice modelling, Elsevier, vol. 9(C), pages 14-26.


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