February 5, 2016


Social Networks and Travel Behavior: An Investigation into the Role of Social Influence in the Transportation Mode Choices of Students


1:40 - 3:00pm


1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village


Social networks serve as a foundation for multiple social processes, such as cooperation, resource sharing and social influence. The focus of this study is social influence, whereby the knowledge, behaviors and/or opinions of one individual affect those of another. There is a growing interest in social influence and its relation to transportation and travel behavior. Several sustainable transportation programs incorporate social networks based outreach tools; for example, the UC Davis goClub periodically asks members to invite their friends and colleagues to sign up and pledge to use an alternative to driving alone for their commutes to campus.

This presentation will include an in-depth look at the role of social influence in travel behavior, and address several nuances of the measurement of social influence, including how social networks are defined, differentiating social influence from other similar processes, and the search for a ‘sweet spot’ of social influence; conditions that are most likely to allow social influence to have an effect on behavior.

Biographical Sketch

Susan Pike is a postdoctoral scholar at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies and the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior. As a postdoctoral scholar Dr. Pike is conducting a series of research projects related to emerging transportation services and technologies, including vehicle- and ride-sharing, and autonomous vehicles. Dr. Pike is evaluating the existing policy landscape addressing these innovations and developing state and local level policy recommendations to address environmental and transportation equity outcomes related to these new services and technologies. Dr. Pike completed her MS and PhD at UC Davis in Transportation Technology and Policy in 2012 and 2015. Her research is focused on the intersections between travel behavior, sustainable transportation, and environmental policy. She is currently teaching courses at UC Davis in environmental policy analysis and theories of behavior and decision making. Prior to her graduate studies, Dr. Pike worked as an environmental planner for the firm Pacific Municipal Consultants, conducting environmental impact analysis for projects throughout the state of California. Dr. Pike earned her BS in Environmental Biology and Management from UC Davis in 2006.

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