The Psychology of the Car

The Psychology of the Car

Automobile Admiration, Attachment, and Addiction

1st Edition - June 15, 2017

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  • Author: Stefan Gossling
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128110089
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128110096

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The Psychology of the Car explores automotive cultures through the lens of psychology with the goal of achieving a low-carbon transport future. Worldwide there are now more than one billion cars, and their number grows continuously. Yet there is growing evidence that humanity needs to reach ‘peak cars’ as increased air pollution, noise, accidents, and climate change support a decline in car usage. While many governments agree, the car remains attractive, and endeavors to change transport systems have faced fierce resistance. Based on insights from a wide range of transport behaviors, The Psychology of the Car shows the “why” of automotive cultures, providing new perspectives essential for understanding its attractiveness and for defining a more desirable transport future. The Psychology of the Car illustrates the growth of global car use over time and its effect on urban transport systems and the global environment. It looks at the adoption of the car into lifestyles, the “mobilities turn,” and how the car impacts collective and personal identities. The book examines car drivers themselves; their personalities, preferences, and personality disorders relevant to driving. The book looks at the role power, control, dominance, speed, and gender play, as well as the interrelationship between personal freedom and law enforcement. The book explores risk-taking behaviors as accidental death is a central element of car driving. The book addresses how interventions can be successful as well as which interventions are unlikely to work, and concludes with how a more sustainable transport future can be created based on emerging transport trends.

Key Features

  • Features deep analyses of individual and collective psychologies of car affection, moving beyond sociology-based interpretations of automobile culture
  • Illustrates concepts using popular culture examples that expose ideas about automobility
  • Shows how fewer, smaller and more environmentally friendly cars, as well as low-carbon transport modes, are more socially attractive


Transportation psychology, transportation planning, and urban transportation researchers and upper level and graduate-level students. Urban transportation practitioners. Tertiary audience: City/state urban and transportation policy-makers

Table of Contents

  • 1. The Automotive System
    2. The Psychology of the Car
    3. Automobile Personalities and (Co)identities
    4. Feelings, Emotions and the Car
    5. Automobility, Gender and Sex
    6. Speed
    7. Rights, Authority, and the Police
    8. Community, Friends, and Family
    9. Risk and Death
    10. The Clinical Psychology of the Car
    11. Barriers to Automobile Change
    12. Sustainable Automotive Futures

Product details

  • No. of pages: 340
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2017
  • Published: June 15, 2017
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128110089
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128110096

About the Author

Stefan Gossling

Stefan Gössling has professorships in Sweden at both Linnaeus University and Lund University, and is Research Coordinator of the Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism at the Western Norway Research Institute. He has worked in sustainability and transport for more than two decades, is the author or editor of 11 Transportation books (almost exclusively with Routledge), and has published more than 100 papers in leading Transportation journals.

Affiliations and Expertise

Associated Professor, Department of Service Management, Lund University, Sweden

Ratings and Reviews

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  • Peter Tue Apr 23 2019

    A new perspective on the car

    This book changed my understanding of the car and automobile culture. I'll probably return to individual chapters many times over in the future, but it is fair to say that understanding car attachment is key to transport system change. This book provides very significant insights in this regard.