Some Angry Drivers Do Not See Themselves As Angry

 Drivers who believe their aggressive tendencies are under control behind the wheel may be just as likely to engage in dangerous and risky behavior as those who admit they are angry drivers, according to a recent study by Rebekah S. Lynch, Ph.D., of Colorado State University.  One hundred and fifty three college students were tested for three months on the levels and frequency of expression of their driving anger.  The students were divided into three groups:  those with high anger and an admitted problem with driving anger; those with high anger but who denied any problem with driving anger; and those with low anger and no problem with driving anger.

Researchers then asked students to keep a record of driving frequency and mileage, how many times they became angry, the situations that incited their anger and whether they drove dangerously as a result.

Not surprisingly, drivers who had previously reported problems with driving anger were more aggressive than low-anger drivers.  However both high anger groups reported frequent episodes of anger, risk taking, accidents and confrontations with other drivers.

Researchers concluded that both groups of high anger drivers should consider counseling to help reduce the frequency and intensity of their anger.

People who acknowledge their driving anger are more likely to accept counseling because they are aware that anger is causing the problem, the researchers said.

From the American Psychological Association Monitor, October 1999.

This study has obvious implications for police officers making traffic stops.  People who are angry, but will not acknowledge the anger, are less likely to be cooperative.

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