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UK research says women drivers are angrier

Hyundai, Goldsmiths sense-tested 1,000 drivers for emotional reactions

Published: October 22, 2016, 10:30 PM
Updated: October 26, 2016, 4:37 AM

angry woman driver

A recent study of 1,000 drivers in the UK reveals that women drivers are angrier at the wheel than their male counterparts.

driving emotion testing

The study was commissioned by Hyundai UK and conducted by Patrick Fagan, behavioural psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London. The experiment “sense tested” participants to see how sound, sight, smell, touch and taste provoke certain emotions in different driving scenarios. Researchers found that the sensory stimulation created certain “defence” mechanisms reportedly instinctual since very early humans.

“Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism,” said Fagan. “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.”

Overall, researchers found there were basically two driving emotions — happiness (related to the joy and freedom of driving) and anger (usually from feeling out of control or dealing with situations over which drivers had no control). Women drivers were found to be 12% angrier than their male counterparts, and reacted in anger when they were shouted at, beeped at or had to deal with back-seat drivers (14% angrier than men), and were 13% angrier when they met up with another road user who failed to indicate.

Men on the other hand, related that they find it easier to have a conversation in a car (29% or respondents) and 14% felt that carrying on a conversation in the car made them better drivers.

The main reasons for happiness while driving were the freedom it granted (51% of respondents), relatively easy mobility (19%) and independence to go and do what you want (10%). That joy was enhanced through open roads (84% of respondents indicated more happiness under those conditions), driving through the countryside (78%) and driving around coastal roads (69%). And the way those happy drivers rejoiced was through singing out loud (54%).

In fact, music in general makes drivers happy (about 80%) with rock and pop being the music genres that most enhance that happiness (70% and 61%, respectively), with songs like Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody being favourites.

Hyundai UK took the research and combined it with cutting edge technology to create a world-first Driving Emotion Test (DET) that uses facial coding, eye tracking, heartrate monitoring and galvanic skin response to record how specific stimuli impact emotions.

An online version of the test is available at houseofhyundai.com, where subjects can get their unique DET scores.