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An indirect latent informational conformity social influence choice model: Formulation and case study


  • Maness, Michael
  • Cirillo, Cinzia


The current state-of-the-art in social influence models of travel behavior is conformity models with direct benefit social influence effects; indirect effects have seen limited development. This paper presents a latent class discrete choice model of an indirect informational conformity hypothesis. Class membership depends on the proportion of group members who adopt a behavior. Membership into the “more informed” class causes taste variation in those individuals thus making adoption more attractive. Equilibrium properties are derived for the informational conformity model showing the possibility of multiple equilibria but under different conditions than the direct-benefit formulations. Social influence elasticity is computed for both models types and non-linear elasticity behavior is represented. Additionally, a two-stage control function is developed to obtain consistent parameter estimates in the presence of an endogenous class membership model covariate that is correlated with choice utility unobservables. The modeling framework is applied in a case study on social influence for bicycle ownership in the United States. Results showed that “more informed” households had a greater chance of owning a bike due to taste variation. These households were less sensitive to smaller home footprints and limited incomes. The behavioral hypothesis of positive preference change due to information transfer was confirmed. Observed ownership share closely matched predicted local-level equilibrium in some metropolitan areas, but the model was unable to fully achieve the expected prediction rates within confidence intervals. The elasticity of social influence was found to range locally from about 0.5% to 1.0%.

Suggested Citation

  • Maness, Michael & Cirillo, Cinzia, 2016. "An indirect latent informational conformity social influence choice model: Formulation and case study," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 93(PA), pages 75-101.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transb:v:93:y:2016:i:pa:p:75-101
    DOI: 10.1016/j.trb.2016.07.008

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    Cited by:

    1. Chiara Calastri & Romain Crastes dit Sourd & Stephane Hess, 2020. "We want it all: experiences from a survey seeking to capture social network structures, lifetime events and short-term travel and activity planning," Transportation, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 175-201, February.
    2. Iryo, Takamasa & Watling, David, 2019. "Properties of equilibria in transport problems with complex interactions between users," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 87-114.
    3. Alvarez, Emiliano & Brida, Juan Gabriel, 2019. "What about the others? Consensus and equilibria in the presence of self-interest and conformity in social groups," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 518(C), pages 285-298.
    4. Biehl, Alec & Ermagun, Alireza & Stathopoulos, Amanda, 2019. "Utilizing multi-stage behavior change theory to model the process of bike share adoption," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 30-45.


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