Development of Methods of Travel Behavior Analysis

Travel behavior assesses how people make choices regarding travel: how much they travel, for what purposes, where they go, at what times, and by which modes and routes. Prof. Shiftan has advanced various analytical travel behavior tools, thereby improving understanding of the decision-making process:

  • By integrating psychological factors, including decision theories from psychology and behavioral economics, into travel behavior modeling in order to improve our predictions of travel behavior, especially in light of new communication and information technologies (Ben-Elia et al., 2008, Ben Elia & Shiftan, 2010, Shiftan et al., 2011, Ben-Elia et al., 2013, Ben-Elia et al., 2013). For example, he showed the impact of experience and reinforced learning on travel behavior decisions (Ben Elia & Shiftan, 2010).
  • By developing a method to investigate the impact of various attitudinal and other latent personal factors on travel choices, using the structural equation approach (Shiftan et al., 2008, Elias & Shiftan, 2012). This method has become quite popular in travel behavior and these papers have been widely cited.
  • By improving methods to analyze travel behavior when travelers face a large number of available alternatives. This is a common situation when one has to choose, for example, among many destinations (e.g., for leisure trips) or between various combinations of travel destination, mode, and time. (The two bullet points below offer further details about this aspect of Prof. Shiftan research.)
  • By developing a two-stage approach to analyzing how people make choices. In the first stage, the method reduces the number of alternatives through simple heuristic rules that mimic those that humans use; the second stage employs a compensatory approach, in which one considers the trade-offs among various alternatives and chooses between the reduced set of useful alternatives (Kaplan et al., 2009, Kaplan et al., 2011, Kaplan et al., 2011, Kaplan et al., 2012, Kaplan et al., 2012).
  • By developing a flexible model structure to understand choice, recognizing that different segments of the population apply different protocols in making a decision. The various ways we make choices requires a variety of model structures, so this heterogeneity in our analysis improves our ability to understand variations in travel behavior (Ishaq et al., 2012, Ishaq et al., 2013, Ishaq et al., forthcoming).

Through these intertwined contributions, Prof. Shiftan has significantly contributed to advancing our understanding of travel behavior, including individual responses to various transport policies and the ongoing technological innovations in the field. The cumulative result is an enhanced understanding of how we move and why, and how governments can build transportation that is more beneficial for us all.