Whether on summer holidays, or commuting to work, the time people spend on the road can be a stressful and frustrating experience, as indicated by social psychologists from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
An ongoing study on the social psychology of road safety conducted jointly by LSE and tyre manufacturer Goodyear, has identified different ways that people respond when they interact with other drivers on the road. These are based on how they deal with their own feelings and their uncertainty as to the behavior of other road users.
Through focus groups and in-depth interviews with drivers, researchers found seven personalities frequently manifest themselves:
These ‘driving personalities’ emerge in different situations when drivers interact with others on the road.
“Much of the time we can sit happily in the comfortable bubble of our car, but around any corner we may have to interact with other drivers. This makes the road a challenging and uncertain social environment. While we may worry about others’ driving, this research suggests that their behavior also depends on what we do. We create the personalities that we don’t like. From a psychological point of view, these different types of personalities represent different outlets that drivers use to deal with their frustrations and strong feelings. We are not always entirely one or the other. Depending on the situation and the interaction with others, most of us will find several of these profiles emerge,” explained Dr. Chris Tennant, social psychologist, who is leading the research project at LSE.
“Most of these behaviors can lead to dangerous situations on the road. Understanding what type of behavior we exhibit and what situations provoke it is a first step for all of us to better control it, thereby creating a safer driving environment for ourselves and others on the road. Besides effective enforcement of laws against aggressive driving; education and life-long learning remain the most powerful public strategies to address this social and emotional aspect of driving and to achieve the greatest improvements in road safety,” recommended Olivier Rousseau, Goodyear Vice President Consumer Tyres in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Although the research was conducted in Europe, these driver personalities are visible on South African roads as well. We are all able to identify with at least one personality type. The research is therefore valuable in understanding one’s own driving style and being aware of that during the upcoming festive season, when many of us take to the roads for the holidays,” says Tracy Maclear, Marketing and Brand Manager for Goodyear South Africa.
The personality types emerged out of the first part of the joint research project, which takes a qualitative look into driving behavior through focus groups and in-depth interviews. With the research, LSE and Goodyear are seeking to identify how drivers influence each other’s behavior on the road.
Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tyre companies. It employs approximately 67,000 people and manufactures its products in 50 facilities in 22 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry.
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is one of the foremost social science universities in the world. LSE is a specialist university with an international intake and a global reach. Its research and teaching span the full breadth of the social sciences, from economics, politics and law to sociology, anthropology, accounting and finance. Founded in 1895, the School has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence. 16 Nobel Prize winners have been LSE staff or alumni. The School has a cosmopolitan student body, with around 9,500 full time students from 140 countries. LSE has a staff of over 3,000, with about 46 per cent drawn from countries outside the UK.
Data from prior research on young drivers (under 25):
- 65% of young drivers have more in-car distractions today than ever before
- 40% of young drivers are willing to take more risks
- 29% of young drivers are less likely to follow the advice they received during driver training
- 29% of young drivers do not see the value in driving lessons
76% of driving instructors want parents to set a better example for their children.