Author(s): Lawton R, Nutter A
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Abstract Incidents of road rage are frequently reported in the media, yet despite claims that aggression on congested roads is a serious social problem, little empirical research has explored the question of whether people really do become more aggressive behind the wheel. This study compares levels and expression of anger in everyday and driving situations with the aim of testing some of the commonly held beliefs about aggression on the roads. A survey questionnaire presented 15 short scenarios describing frustrating situations and included a measure of anger and three levels of expression, outward, displaced, and suppressed. The questionnaire was posted on the Internet and received 226 responses during a 3-month period. Analysis revealed that people were no more likely to report experiencing anger while driving than in non-driving situations. However, the expression of anger did differ in the two contexts. In response to the driving scenarios, respondents were significantly more likely to report displacing their anger than in non-driving situations. Those individuals who reported high levels of anger were also more likely to be outwardly aggressive while driving than they were in non-driving situations. Although males and females reported very similar levels of anger, their expression of anger did differ. For females, the largest difference is between outwardly expressing anger and the other two forms, displacing and suppressing, whereas for men, the differences between these three forms are more alike. The paper concludes with a discussion of the practical implications of these findings.
This article was published in Br J Psychol
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics