Smartphone Instead of a Car?

In the empirical research project scientists of the ISOE are investigating the connection between the use of smartphones and attitudes towards mobility.

Research approach

The project focuses on the question whether there is a connection between the use of information and communication technology (IKT) and the affinity towards cars. Or, in other words: if for those parts of the young generation for who smartphones and the mobile Internet are particularly important the ownership of a car is losing in significance. This research question will be investigated on the attitude-level (the importance of owning a car, attitude towards various means of transportation) as well as on the behavioral level (car ownership, season tickets for public transport, use of transportation).

Furthermore, the hypothesis will be examined that the affinity towards modern IKT is linked with a more positive attitude towards multimodal means of locomotion. The theoretical background of this research is the ISOE concept of life and mobility styles. Accordingly, mobility behavior is not only determined by spatial, infrastructural and socio-economical factors but also by lifestyle orientations that are reflected by respective attitudes towards everyday objects. The test of the hypothesis will be done on the basis of a survey of 1000 citizens which makes it representative for Germany.


Meanwhile, it is regarded as certain that the basic attitudes towards mobility and transport behavior have changed. Accordingly, it can be observed that the younger generation has a less pronounced interest in owning a car than the older generation. However, the reasons for this change are unclear. One explanation that will be investigated in the project is that for the ‘digital natives’ i.e. the generation that grew up with the internet owning a car is no longer of such symbolic importance. For social integration and personal stylization the ownership and use of modern means of information and communication, particularly internet-capable smartphones is decisive, the purchase of a car of one’s own is no longer of central significance. Finally, the project will investigate the related thesis that for the young generation the declining significance of an own car is linked to an openness towards a changed, multimodal transport behavior.

The changed mobility orientation that can be observed, has resulted in the car manufacturers discovering carsharing as well and developing and introducing to the market a novel kind of flexible caresharing (Freefloating resp. One-Way). At the same time, more and more smartphone-apps are being developed that integrate various forms of locomotion. Up to now there has, however, not been a study yet that systematically investigates the connection between IKT-affinity and declining car-affinity with scientific methods and a subsequent publication of the results that could thus become part of the scientific discourse.


Own project of ISOE


2014/06 – 2015/07