Driving Behavior Caused by Psychological Design, Not Cultural Cues

Driving Behavior Caused by Psychological Design, Not Cultural Cues

Driving Behavior Caused by Psychological Design, Not Cultural Cues

A recent study of drivers across various cultures shows that psychological similarities lead to similar driving behavior, despite cultural differences. The study is entitled Traffic Psychology: An International Perspective, and was edited by associate professor Dwight Hennessy at Buffalo State College. It was previously thought that drivers in individualistic countries, such as America, would exhibit more aggressive driving behavior than drivers in countries that stress collective behavior.

However, the information gathered shows that drivers in community focused countries like China become just as stressed and aggressive while on the road. Understanding what stresses drivers, and which drivers are most likely to react with aggression, is key to preventing many accidents and violent outbursts in traffic. With nearly 700 million vehicles in the world, a new psychology sub-field known as traffic psychology has emerged to study the specific psychological stressors unique to the driving experience.

The study also showed that men are not more likely to become aggressive while driving than women. Men may be more likely to actually exit their vehicles and directly confront a fellow driver, but other aggressive behavior like yelling and gesturing was found equally across both genders. Data from 20 countries, gathered through cognitive, clinical and developmental disciplines, was used to create the study. Despite cultural and custom differences, drivers across the world become stressed by the same behaviors. While drivers in Europe may expect a different amount of personal space around their vehicle than American drivers, both react when another car comes too close.

Certain personality types were found to be more likely to react in aggression. Controlling people and those who responded to a variety of other stimulus with aggression showed the most road rage, as well as people who did not give themselves enough time to reach a destination. The stress a driver feels during the experience carries on once they leave their car, making a serious impact on their everyday quality of life.


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