Context change and travel mode choice: Combining the habit discontinuity and self-activation hypotheses

B Verplanken, I Walker, A Davis, M Jurasek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

390 Citations (SciVal)


The habit discontinuity hypothesis states that when a context change disrupts individuals' habits, a window opens in which behavior is more likely to be deliberately considered. The self-activation hypothesis states that when values incorporated in the self-concept are activated, these are more likely to guide behavior. Combining these two hypotheses, it was predicted that context change enhances the likelihood that important values are considered and guide behavior. This prediction was tested in the domain of travel mode choices among university employees who had recently moved versus had not recently moved residence. As was anticipated, participants who had recently moved and were environmentally concerned used the car less frequently for commuting to work. This was found not only when compared to those who were low on environmental concern (which would be a trivial finding), but also to those who were environmentally concerned but had not recently moved. The effects were controlled for a range of background variables. The results support the notion that context change can activate important values that guide the process of negotiating sustainable behaviors. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Environment and sustainability


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