Using psychological science to modify driver aggression

Dec. 9, 2013 at 9:22 PM
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TORONTO, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Efforts to apply psychological science to aggressive drivers are in their infancy but may have great potential, researchers in Canada said.

Christine Wickens of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and colleagues at York University investigated the factors that contribute to aggressive driving and found person-related factors and situation-related factors.

The research suggested drivers who are young, high in "Type A" characteristics of competitiveness and achievement motivation, and who feel overwhelmed by incoming sensory information are more likely to be aggressive drivers.

Situation-related factors, such as cluttered urban roadways and offensive driving by others, contributed to driver stress and, ultimately, driver aggression, Wickens said.

Wickens said in an article in Current Directions in Psychological Science that programs with a therapeutic focus can help aggressive drivers to identify their triggers, recognize influential cognitive biases and employ relaxation techniques to prevent feelings of roadway aggression.

In addition, some insurance companies are now allowing drivers to place a tracking instrument in their car -- those who show "good driving" are offered a discount on their insurance premium, Wickens said.

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