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Changing attitudes to individuals' car dependence key in



                                                                                                              July 2010

       Changing attitudes to individuals’ car dependence key in developing
                          sustainable transport system
                   Keynote speaker: Linda Steg (University of Groningen, Netherlands)

Changing travel behaviour is more complicated than just providing an attractive and efficient public transport system,
according to leading transport psychologist Linda Steg.

Steg argues that understanding why we hold driving in such high esteem and providing alternative means of changing
behaviour towards this is key in developing an effective sustainable transport policy.

Presenting ‘A psychological perspective on sustainable transport’ at this year’s International Congress of Applied
Psychology, Steg says psychologists need to understand which factors influence travel behaviour and closer examine
the policies which will be feasible in changing travel behaviour.

“Psychologists play an integral role in studying which interventions will be most effective and acceptable in changing
travel behaviour and promoting sustainable transportation,” said Steg.

“Transport problems are caused by behaviours so the solution should involve looking at the behaviour itself,” she said.

Cars are perceived, according to Steg, as a way of expressing a person’s identity and confirming their societal
position while driving is more about being a pleasurable and stimulating activity rather than just a mode of transport.

“One of the things which intrigued me was that when I interviewed people who were in traffic jams everyday, they said
the reason they drove was because they liked driving and that it was more of a status symbol rather than something
which was functional,” said Steg.

The symbolic motives behind car use are especially evident among young and male drivers.

Intervention factors required to change behaviour include targeting: psychological strategies including changing
individual perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, values and norm, structural strategies, push and pull measures, factors
influencing the effectiveness of rewards and penalties and intervention planning.

Moving forward, Steg claims that in-depth research into individuals’ responses to change and the impact this has on
their quality of life is vital.

“It should be studied to what extent interventions affect individual quality of life because an environmentally sound
transport system can only be considered to be sustainable when individual quality of life is secured,” said Stegg.

“Coming up with and investing in a total package – making cars less attractive and the alternative more attractive – is

Steg continues to study and lead research on traffic psychology both in The Netherlands and globally.

Environmental Psychology in Australia

The Australian Psychological Society has established an Environmental Issues and Climate Change Reference Group
to address psychological contributions to managing climate change. This group will support psychological research in
the area, assist individuals and communities in coping with the effects of climate change, help the wider community to
engage in ‘green' behaviours and provide psychological perspectives to government to assist in the development of
effective climate change policies.

About Linda Steg

A lecturer in environmental psychology at the University Groningen, Linda Steg focuses her research largely on
evaluating, appraising and adapting evolving behaviour and attitudes towards environmental change. Concentrating
her research on individual and corporate environmental behaviour modification from a multidisciplinary perspective,
Steg coordinates and supervises many research projects and PhD reports on the above-mentioned topics.

Steg is Fellow of the Energy Delta Research Centre of Groningen, president-elect of Division 4 ‘Environmental
Psychology’ and treasurer of Division 13 ‘Traffic and Transport Psychology’ of the International Association of Applied
Psychology. She also coordinates the sustainability network of the International Association of People-Environment

For more information on Linda Steg or to arrange interviews, please contact:
• Rachael Nightingale, Fenton Communications on +613 9600 0006 / 0449881980 or email

About the 27 International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP) 2010
ICAP 2010 will be held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, bringing together more than 3000 presenters
from 60 countries, including prominent psychologists, researchers and keynote speakers. The Congress is held every
four years and is brought to Melbourne in 2010 by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and International
Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). ICAP 2010 will be held at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre
from Sunday 11 July to Friday 16 July 2010.


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