The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘road rage’

The Link Between Sideline Rage and Road Rage

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 23, 2008

UPI has an interesting write-up on new research by Jay Goldstein, a kinesiology doctoral student at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Goldstein links persons susceptible to road rage with those who get upset while watching their kids play youth soccer. We excerpt the piece below.

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Ego defensiveness, one of the triggers that ignites road rage, also kicks off parental “sideline rage” at a child’s soccer game, U.S. researchers said.

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.

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For the rest of the piece, click here. For some related Situationist posts, see “Do Car Bumper Stickers Signal Driver Aggression?,” “The Psychological Toll of Automobile Traffic,” and “Car Bonding.”

Posted in Life, Situationist Sports, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do Car Bumper Stickers Signal Driver Aggression?

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 19, 2008

Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post has an interesting piece on a recent Journal of Applied Social Psychology study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko that correlates bumper stickers on cars — including stickers that signify peace and other seemingly benign messages — with elevated levels of driver aggression. We excerpt Vedantam’s piece below.

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Watch out for cars with bumper stickers.

That’s the surprising conclusion of a recent study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko. Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other “territorial markers” not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage — by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.

It does not seem to matter whether the messages on the stickers are about peace and love — “Visualize World Peace,” “My Kid Is an Honor Student” — or angry and in your face — “Don’t Mess With Texas,” “My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student.”

Hey, you clown! This ain’t funny! Aggressive driving might be responsible for up to two-thirds of all U.S. traffic accidents that involve injuries.

Szlemko and his colleagues at Fort Collins found that people who personalize their cars acknowledge that they are aggressive drivers, but usually do not realize that they are reporting much higher levels of aggression than people whose cars do not have visible markers on their vehicles.

Drivers who do not personalize their cars get angry, too, Szlemko and his colleagues concluded in a paper they recently published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, but they don’t act out their anger. They fume, mentally call the other driver a jerk, and move on.

“The more markers a car has, the more aggressively the person tends to drive when provoked,” Szlemko said. “Just the presence of territory markers predicts the tendency to be an aggressive driver.”

The key to the phenomenon apparently lies in the idea of territoriality. Drivers with road rage tend to think of public streets and highways as “my street” and “my lane” — in other words, they think they “own the road.”

Why would bumper stickers predict which people are likely to view public roadways as private property?

Social scientists such as Szlemko say that people carry around three kinds of territorial spaces in their heads. One is personal territory — like a home, or a bedroom. The second kind involves space that is temporarily yours — an office cubicle or a gym locker. The third kind is public territory: park benches, walking trails — and roads.

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For the rest of the piece, click here.

Posted in Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

The Psychological Toll of Automobile Traffic

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 10, 2008

Situationist readers who live or work in cities like Los Angeles, New York, London, or Boston can certainly relate to stress caused by being stuck in traffic. To be sure, traffic causes more than mere anxiety — it has been connected to obesity, lost economic opportunities, and environmental waste, among other socially undesirable consequences. According to research by UC Irvine psychologists Raymond Novaco and Daniel Stokols, commuter stress can prove highly damaging to those who experience it. Below we excerpt an article by the Los Angeles Times‘ Christopher Goffard that examines their research and its implications.

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As society hurtles forward in an age of instant messaging and one-click shopping, motorists paradoxically find themselves moored between bumpers for hours a day, with a psychic toll that experts are still trying to tally.

Dr. Laura Pinegar, a Long Beach psychologist who treats depression and panic disorders, hears a growing number of complaints about traffic anxiety in her practice.

“If you’re stuck in traffic, there’s a feeling of being out of control,” she said. “You can be at a dead standstill on the freeway, but amped up from the day, thinking, ‘I gotta get home. I gotta get the kids. What if I don’t get to day care before it closes?’ “

In several studies on commuter stress, UC Irvine psychologists Raymond Novaco and Daniel Stokols made a surprising finding. Though they hypothesized that long commutes would be more stressful for hard-charging, Type A personalities than for mellow Type Bs, it turned out that the opposite was true. The reasons: The hard-chargers exercised more control over their lives. They had picked homes they liked and jobs that absorbed them. In traffic, they thought about work. The mellow drivers, on the other hand, thought about being trapped in traffic.

According to one study, women with long-distance commutes who drive alone are in the demographic group that suffers the greatest commuting stress. Pinegar said she has had some success in encouraging drivers to think of their commute as a buffer zone between work and home. “Especially mothers with large families,” she said. “They think, ‘This is my time to mellow out, maybe listen to the radio, get books on tape.’ “

How gridlock makes us feel depends on what we tell ourselves about the experience, says Ronald Nathan, a psychologist in Albany, N.Y., who has treated both perpetrators and victims of road rage.

“Some people say, ‘Great, I can kick back and listen to some music,’ ” Nathan said, but others feel like life is passing them by. “We can start to over-generalize by saying, ‘My life is worthless. All I am is somebody who gets into a piece of metal and goes from one place to another.’ “

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For the rest of the article, click here. For a related Situationist post, see “Car Bonding.”

Posted in Emotions, Life | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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