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How’s My Driving? Probably Aggressive

June 20, 2008 10:29 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
People who decorate their cars with bumper stickers are more likely to be aggressive drivers, a new study shows.

30-Second Summary

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The Journal for Applied Social Psychology published a study indicating that drivers with bumper stickers on their vehicles are more likely to drive aggressively.  Colorado State University professor William Szlemko conducted the study, which observed the responses of approximately 500 people to provocative road behavior.

The message conveyed on the sticker is irrelevant. According to the study, “The content of the bumper stickers didn’t really make a difference in how aggressive the person was.”

Szlemko asserts that people place bumper stickers on their cars to mark their territory. This territorialism leads to aggressive and angry driving as motorists begin to view the road as their own personal space. Drivers who personalize their cars with bumper stickers, custom license plates, and other décor “see their cars in the same way as they see their homes and bedrooms—as deeply personal space, or primary territory.”

People psychologically divide their territory into private and public. Confusion arises when motorists are unable to differentiate the private space of their car from the public space of the road. When motorists view the road as private space, they aggressively defend it against people that they perceive are being “disrespectful of their space.”

Szlemko concluded that drivers without bumper stickers get angry as well, but they “don’t act out their anger.” Instead, they deal with it internally, and quickly move on.

Headline Links: ‘I Brake for Aggressive Drivers’

Background: Road rage

Related Topics: Road rage causes; driving with cell phones

Reference: Driving safely

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