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Bumper stickers may predict road-rage

FORT COLLINS, Colo., June 16 (UPI) -- Colorado researchers warn that drivers sporting bumper stickers or decals may be more likely to lapse into "road-rage" behavior when provoked.

The authors of a Colorado State University study say their experiments have found drivers who personalize their cars with message-bearing bumper stickers, no matter what they say, and other kinds of "markings" are more prone to such aggressive driving as tailgating and horn-honking, The Washington Post reported Monday.

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Social psychologists William Szlemko and Paul Bell led the study, in which they theorize that drivers who mark their cars tend to see the roads as their personal territory, much as they do their own homes and feel a need to defend it against perceived threats.

In the experiment, one researcher sat in a car in a left-turn lane. When the light turned green, he simply stayed still, blocking the car behind, while another researcher determined whether the blocked car had bumper stickers or other "territorial markers" and measured how long it took for the driver of the blocked car to honk.

Szlemko told the Post that that cars with bumper stickers or other markings honked nearly 2 full seconds faster than drivers of cars without any markings.

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