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Newsletter No. 5
July 2017

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Welcome to the fifth and last issue of the MIND-SETS newsletter, your bi-annual look inside the minds, motives and preferences of transport users in Europe. In this issue, we share our impressions of the final conference, summarise the project's results, and link to the MIND-SETS Knowledge Centre (MSKC).

Please join our social media channels (LinkedIn and Twitter) so that you can share your thoughts about the ideas presented here and stay informed regarding the MIND-SETS Knowledge Centre.


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MIND-SETS officially said good-bye, or rather, so long to its stakeholders and hello to the new MIND-SETS Knowledge Centre, one of the main outputs of the project, at its final conference, Towards User-Centric Transport in Europe. The conference, which was held on May 22-23, 2017, took a look at transport issues and the future of mobility from a variety of perspectives. It was jointly organised by MIND-SETS and Mobility4EU, both projects addressing the impact of societal trends and the challenges facing European mobility in response to the European Commission’s priorities and objectives for a more inclusive and sustainable mobility that contributes to the well-being of all Europeans.

The conference showcased the multidisciplinary approach developed by the MIND-SETS project, which implies that different “mobility mind-sets” – from economics, psychology, sociology, ICT and other disciplines – need to be integrated if we want to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive mobility. We can utilise what we know about behavioural economics and decision-making biases to encourage better user choices.

Assuming that people are rational decision makers, and that their decisions are based solely on variables such as cost and time, is an overly simplistic way of looking at things. First of all, people do not always have a full picture of their options or of what the outcome of each option might be, leading them to “satisfice”, that is, to choose the good enough option rather than the best option. Secondly, much of our decisions are rooted in attitudes, beliefs and social norms, leading people to assume, for example, that private cars are a less expensive and more time-efficient form of transport. This means that people sometimes make choices that go against their own best interest - the “status quo bias” – perceiving changes to the current state of affairs as a loss, even where they may be beneficial. There are ways, however, to counter these biases and prejudices, such as expressing benefits and costs in ways that are more easily and immediately understood. By reframing the perception of certain travel modes to make them more attractive, it is possible to nudge citizens towards healthier and more sustainable forms of transport.

Mobility is, in fact, deeply psychological and social. All of us crave a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedness. Crucial to this is to be able to get from point A to point B when we want. Accessible and reliable transport that is inclusive of all incomes, all communities and all ages ensures access to job opportunities, to medical care, and to each other. This inclusiveness is going to become increasingly important as our society ages, as will more active transport, with its ensuing physical and mental well-being. But, again due to our belief systems and social norms, changing behaviour towards more active and sustainable options is not easy. We ascribe symbolic and emotional meaning to our cars, and we allow them to communicate our social status to others. If we are to change our habits, we must create other ways to signal that status.

Social networks are key in altering these perceptions and in associating status with more sustainable and inclusive choices. Ultimately, understanding how mobility fulfils our psychological needs – as well as our need for connection - can help us not only improve our transport decisions, but also to build a happier and more inclusive society. Social networks can either transform or bolster existing travel patterns, through knowledge transfer and joint activities with other members.

ICTs have redefined how we connect, how we communicate and how we move. These same ICTs also document the way we network and travel, generating vast amounts of data that can be used to make mobility smarter, seamless and more sustainable. But Big Data also creates a number of challenges, the biggest of which is the need to protect people’s privacy. It is important to understand who controls and manages the data, and to determine how it can be collected and used. To this end, policy makers should define standardised, shared protocols regarding data use.

There is a sort of digital divide, however, between older and younger generations. This does not only apply to the use of ICTs, but also to people’s values and attitudes. By examining the value sets of different generations, we can come up with new insights about mobility, particularly with regard to technical and service innovation and the impact of social and psychological forces on Europeans’ decisions and lifestyles. While the specific characteristics of each generation are influenced by other socio-cultural, psychological, biological and economic factors, we can still create a rough sketch of the various “types”.

Photo: Juhan Sonin

For digital aboriginals, or the generation born after 2000, the digital world is as permanent and real as the air they breathe. They are at ease immediately with any new form of technology and tend to be extremely image conscious, frequently sharing life events on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. With regard to mobility, the line between virtual and physical spaces is an often indistinct one.

Millennials, born between 1985 and 1999, are a contradictory bunch as, on the one hand, they are highly likely to use smartphones and be connected on social media, yet they also feel the need to get away from it at times and put a high value on face-to-face interaction. These peripatetic egalitarians are flexible, and prefer shared, collaborative solutions over competitive, owned ones. Above all, they value authenticity and conviviality, something which mobility product and service providers should take into consideration.

Prime busters, the generation born between 1965 and 1984, never have enough money, time or space. They grew up in a pre-internet, pre-smartphone world but have become digital and spend a lot of time on social networks, particularly LinkedIn. They struggle with finding balance in their lives and value local, sustainable, and ethical products and services.

Baby bloomers, born between 1955 and 1970, are comfortable with technology and social media, but also value their privacy. They are not interested in quick fads and the built-in obsolescence of many new products, and to engage with them, mobility product and service providers should offer high-quality, customized services with lasting value.

Master boomers, who were born between 1940 and 1955, have a lot of time and money to spend. They want to remain healthy, active and independent. To attract them, product and service providers will need to focus on applications and services that promote healthy, adventurous and active lifestyles.

Photo: Kamyar Adl

While not exhaustive, these generational perspectives can offer mobility providers and policy makers important insights on how people of different age brackets are likely to respond to new policies, products and services. The MIND-SETS radar chart, an interactive tool developed by the project, maps generational attitudes and behaviours, along with products and services, in order to see where they align, and where they don’t. This easy-to-use innovative tool ranks current and future transport innovations by how safe, smart, social and sustainable they are, therefore helping to predict user acceptance of policies, products and services. The radar chart, together with all the knowledge gathered in the MIND-SETS project will be available at the interactive MIND-SETS Knowledge Centre at

While the MIND-SETS project may be over, the discussion inspired by its approach to mobility behaviour has only just begun. Sign up on our social media channels or at the MIND-SETS Knowledge Centre to continue exploring these issues.


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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020
research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 640401.