The campaign I am working with are trying to get children to travel sustainably to school, so I really wanted to understand why people love cars and if possible how this ‘value’ could be transposed onto other forms of transport

We all imbue objects with other meanings and feelings beyond their intended use. Be it a favourite photograph, a bar of chocolate, a magazine we read, or a CD containing our favourite music. These feelings that we have about the object making us feel good or better are called symbol affective motives. This concept is used by many advertisers to build brand affiliation by consumers to that product and associated product lines.


(left) the freedom of the road and having control over the journey makes cars an easy sell by advertisers, using our ‘symbol affective motives’ to sell lifestyles we crave




An obvious candidate for generating feelings above and beyond its intended use are cars. Cars help us get from A to B, to work and other instrumental reasons. But, they also evoke feelings of power, superiority, freedom and independence. As you can imagine, the emotions and feelings we associate with cars are a strong pull, and are used to sell cars to us, regularly through TV adverts.

These affective motives can also be used to rebrand cycling and walking, it just requires campaigns promoting these transport modes to use these motives for their own benefit. One idea for walking, is that everyone has control over walking, so walking provides freedom.