, 36:187 | Cite as

Studying travel-related individual assessments and desires by combining hierarchically structured ordinal variables

  • Marco DianaEmail author
  • Tingting Song
  • Knut M. Wittkowski


Ordinal measures are frequently encountered in travel behavior research. This paper presents a new method for combining them when a hierarchical structure of the data can be presumed. This method is applied to study the subjective assessment of the amount of travel by different transportation modes among a group of French clerical workers, along with the desire to increase or decrease the use of such modes. Some advantages of this approach over traditional data reduction technique such as factor analysis when applied to ordinal data are then illustrated. In this study, combining evidence from several variables sheds light on the observed moderately negative relationship between the personal assessment of the amount of travel and the desire to increase or decrease it, thus integrating previous partial (univariate) results. We find a latent demand for travel, thus contributing to clarify the behavioral mechanisms behind the induced traffic phenomenon. Categorizing the above relationship by transportation mode shows a desire for a less environmental-friendly mix of modes (i.e., a greater desire to use heavy motorized modes and a lower desire to use two-wheeled modes), whenever the respondents do not feel to travel extensively. This result, combined with previous theoretical investigations concerning the determinants of the desire to alter trips consumption levels, shows the importance of making people aware of how much they travel.


Subjective mobility Travel desires Ordinal variables Factor analysis Multidimensional data 



The survey originating the dataset that has been used in the present research was implemented thanks to the support of INRETS, the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research. The project was also supported in part by Grant Number UL1RR024143 from the U.S. National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Comments from three anonymous referees helped to improve a previous version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Diana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tingting Song
    • 2
  • Knut M. Wittkowski
    • 2
  1. 1.Politecnico di Torino, Dipartimento di IdraulicaTrasporti e Infrastrutture CiviliTorinoItaly
  2. 2.The Rockefeller University, Center for Clinical and Translational ScienceNew YorkUSA

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