The study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, said that if a person has a tendency to become upset while driving, he or she is more likely to be the kind of parent who explodes in anger at a child's sports matches.
Jay Goldstein, a kinesiology doctoral student at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, surveyed 340 predominantly white middle-class parents at youth soccer games in suburban Washington, and found parents became angry when their ego got in the way.
"When they perceived something that happened during the game to be personally directed at them or their child, they got angry," Goldstein said in a statement. "That's consistent with findings on road rage."
Goldstein defines control-oriented people as far more likely to take something personally and flare up at referees, opposing players and even their own children, than autonomy-oriented parents, who take greater responsibility for their own behavior.
"In general, control-oriented people are the kind who try to 'keep up with the Joneses,'" Goldstein said. "They have a harder time controlling their reactions."