Means of transport and ontological security: Do cars provide psycho-social benefits to their users?

Rosemary Hiscock, S Macintyre, A Kearns, A Ellaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

125 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper presents some empirical evidence on the psycho-social benefits people seem to derive from their cars based on in-depth interviews with a sample of car owners and non-car owners in the West of Scotland. We suggest that psycho-social benefits of protection, autonomy and prestige may help to explain people's attachment to cars and also why studies have found consistently that car owners are healthier than non-car owners. In our study cars were seen to provide protection from undesirable people events, and a comfortable cocoon (but not as providing protection against accidents). Cars provided autonomy because car use was seen as being more convenient, reliable and providing access to more destinations than public transport. Cars were seen to confer prestige and other socially desirable attributes such as competence, skill and masculinity. We think that it is important for policy makers to consider how to make public transport more attractive by increasing its potential to provide similar sorts of benefits, and to do so by targetting the different needs of various population groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-135
Number of pages17
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002

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