Understanding the Dynamics in the Relationships between Electric Vehicle Adoption, Dynamic and Descriptive Norms

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Large-scale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) can contribute to a transition towards sustainable (energy) systems. Such large-scale changes often start on a small-scale, with initially only a minority engaging in the particular behaviour which may spread to other people and ultimately, can lead to widespread adoption in society. Key determinants of EV adoption may be descriptive norms in society, that is, the perceived adoption of EVs in society. Yet, with only a minority adopting EVs, the descriptive norm for this behaviour is likely to be weak. We expect a weak descriptive norm to inhibit the adoption of EVs in many individuals. We explore what factors determine whether people adopt EVs despite the existing descriptive norm, and how over time this may turn into a dynamic social norm (i.e., where individuals become aware that more and more people adopt EVs), and eventually a new descriptive norm. We hypothesise that individuals can become motivated to adopt EVs when they interact with someone who already owns an EV. Further, we explore how, by means of such influences and dynamic norms, tipping points can be reached, beyond which reinforcing mechanisms between EV adoption and descriptive norms can lead to large-scale changes. We tested these propositions via an empirically informed agent-based model showing that the relationships of (factors of) EV adoption, dynamic and descriptive norms form a dynamic interplay that can explain how EV adoption of a minority can lead to large-scale changes. Limitations and implications will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2023
EventBEHAVE 2023: The 7th European Conference on Behaviour Change for Energy Efficiency - MECC Maastricht, Maastricht, Netherlands
Duration: 28-Nov-202329-Nov-2023


ConferenceBEHAVE 2023


  • eletric vehicle adoption
  • dynamic norms
  • descriptive norms

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