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Are women angrier than men behind the wheel?

2016-10-20 09:13

WHO'S THE ANGRIEST? Who do you think is angrier behind the wheel - male or female drivers? Image: iStock

England - Hooting at other drivers, shouting obscenities, screaming at a traffic light that seemingly won't change... we've all been guilty of expressing our anger in some form on the road.

Have you ever wondered which sex is the angriest on the road? New research shows women drivers are more likely to loose their cool behind the wheel than men.

The recent study of 1000 drivers in England reveals women are, on average, 12% angrier than men when they’re behind the wheel.

'Sense test'

The experiment, conducted by Patrick Fagan, behavioural psychologist from Goldsmiths University London, ‘sense tested’ the 1000 drivers to see how sound, sight, smell, touch and taste provoke emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

The study, conducted in partnership with Hyundai, found there are two dominant emotions: happiness - intrinsically linked to a sense of freedom when driving - and anger when drivers feel out of control.  

GET OUT OF THE WAY! There's a reason you're angry behind the wheel - evolution kicks in. Image: iStock

The study

Researchers found driving sparked ancient ‘defence’ instincts from when humans were hunter-gatherers.

These evolutionary traits kicked in during the test when women were either undertaken, shouted or beeped at, had to deal with a back-seat driver (women 14% angrier) or were faced with a road user who failed to indicate (women 13% angrier).

READ: Road rage - Millions of drivers admit to dangerous behaviour

In all test scenarios, women were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers.

Other key findings include:

  • The primary reasons for our continued love affair with driving is the freedom it gives us (51%), mobility (19%) and independence (10%)
  • If you want a man to open up, take him for a drive. Just under a third (29%) of men said they find it easier to have a conversation in the car. 14% added that a chat actually makes them a better driver
  • 54% said the thing that made them really happy in the car was singing
  • When researchers looked at what makes us happy behind the wheel, 84% said “empty roads”, 78% said “the countryside” and 69% “the seaside”
  • Music makes drivers happy. Eight out of 10 people always listen to something while driving with Meatloaf’s 'Bat out of Hell' and Queen’s 'Bohemian Rhapsody' top of the driving charts. Pop (70%) and rock (61%) are the most popular genres

READ: Road rage - Angry driver loses his cool in traffic

Fagan said: “Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism.  Evolutionary theory suggests our early female ancestors had to develop an acute sense of danger for anything that threatened them and their young if their cave was undefended while men were out hunting. That ‘early warning system’ instinct is still relevant today, and women drivers tend to be more sensitive to negative stimuli, so get angry and frustrated quicker.”

Tony Whitehorn, CEO of Hyundai UK, said:  “We are constantly striving to better understand what impacts people’s behaviour when they are driving and this research has certainly revealed some interesting, and somewhat surprising results.  By examining drivers’ emotions, our aim is to help them get a better drive both today and in the future.” 

Driving Emotion Test

Hyundai and Fagan have used data from the research and cutting-edge technology to create the world first Driving Emotion Test (DET). This unique experiment involves facial coding technology, eye tracking analysis, galvanic skin response and a heartrate monitor to record how specific stimuli impact our emotions when we’re driving. The results are then fed into specially-created software to provide subjects with a unique DET score. 

Take the test yourself: Click on the gif below

Read more on:    hyundai  |  england  |  women  |  road rage  |  auto industry

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