The Need to Change How People Think About the Consequences of Travel

  • Tommy GärlingEmail author
  • Dick Ettema
  • Margareta Friman


We argue that the general public and politicians think more about the short-term individual benefits of travel than they think about the long-term societal costs. One explanation is that they have less knowledge of the latter than they have of the former. Another explanation is that they like people in general are more concerned about their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their close relatives than they are concerned about the well-being of unknown others. Yet, in a democratic society changes towards sustainable travel are not likely to materialize unless people shift their thinking about travel to placing a higher weight on its long-term societal costs than the short-term benefits. Research findings documenting these costs may affect the general public only if they are accurately conveyed by different sources including governments, mass media, producers and providers of travel services, and other people. We identify many current obstacles to this in need to be removed.


Transport Policy Global Cost Temporal Discount Societal Consequence Motorize Traffic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Preparation of this chapter was made possible by grant #2004-02974 from the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA) to the Service and Market Oriented Transport Research Group (SAMOT). We thank Karl Johan Bonnedahl and Johan Jansson for comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden
  2. 2.Faculty of GeosciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.SAMOT/CTFKarlstad UniversityKarlstadSweden

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