Report 2:
My Understanding of Driving Psychology

By Lynda Hoang

Instructions for this report are at:

www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/409a-g21-report2.htm 

Question 1:

Consider Tables 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Lecture Notes, in the Section on Driving Psychology Theory and Charts at  www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/409a-g21-lecture-notes.htm#Charts  Consult the article from which the Tables were taken. Using your own words, describe the three behavioral domains and levels of a driver (nine cells). Illustrate each domain with your own driving behavior skills and errors, or that of another driver you know well, or a driver in a particular movie. Make up a "driving personality makeover" plan for yourself (or another driver you know well). Discuss the problems you anticipate in carrying out such a plan successfully.

Table 1 (below) lists driving behavior as skills and errors in the three domains of the driver’s threefold self.  The driver’s threefold self is acquired starting from childhood through our parents, other adults, media, etc.  When we start to drive, we have already been exposed to aggressive driving in three domains.  These domains are:  Hostile feelings (affective self), biased thoughts (cognitive self), and aggressive actions (sensorimotor self).  The affective self manages our emotions while driving, the cognitive self manages the thinking aspect of driving, and the sensorimotor self manages our motor skills and actions.

Table 1 

Driver Behavior as Skills and Errors in Three Domains

 

SKILLS (+)

AFFECTIVE (+A)

COGNITIVE (+C)

SENSORIMOTOR (+S)

I've got to be careful here. Don't want to cut anybody off.

This person looks like he's in a hurry to get in. I better let him in.

(Waving and smiling:) Go ahead.

ERRORS (-)

AFFECTIVE (-A)

COGNITIVE (-C)

SENSORIMOTOR (S)

I wish I could give that guy a piece of my mind.

I don't think people like that should be allowed on the road

(Yelling:) "You stupid idiot, why don't you watch where you're going!"

The three levels of a driver are listed on table 2 (below) from bottom to top.  The levels are proficiency, safety, and responsibility.  As a new driver, you start at the proficiency level.  The safety and responsibility levels follow later on in life.  At the proficiency level, you are primarily focused on developing the skills (affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor) to drive.  At the safety level, you are mainly concerned about avoiding trouble, and at the responsibility level, your primary motive is to be responsible for your actions towards others, and you use the three domains to do this.  

At each level, the three domains are applied.  The table separates the 18 behavioral zones of driving into skills and errors by assigning a + or -.  Zones 1 through 3 represent the skills for the proficiency level and zones 10 through 12 represent the errors.  For the safety level, zones 7 through 9 are the skills and 4 through 6 are the errors.  At the responsibility level, zones 7 through 9 are the skills and 16 through 18 are the errors.

Table 2

Behavioral Zones of Driving

 

Affective Responsibility
in Driving
A3 (+ or -)


Cognitive Responsibility

in Driving
C3 (+ or -)
 

Sensorimotor Responsibility
in Driving
S3 (+ or -)

(7) altruism and morality

vs.
(16) egotism and deficient conscience

(8 )positive dramatizations and mental health
vs.

(17) negative dramatizations and insanity

(9) enjoyment and satisfaction
vs.
(18) stress and depression

 

Affective Safety
in Driving
A2 (+ or -)

Cognitive Safety
in Driving
C2 (+ or -)

Sensorimotor Safety
in Driving
S2 (+ or -)

(4) defensive driving and equity
vs.
(13) aggressiveness opportunism

(5) objective attributions
vs.
(14) biased attributions

(6) polite exchanges and calmness
vs.
(15) rude exchanges and overreaction

Affective Proficiency
in Driving
A1 (+ or -)

Cognitive Proficiency
in Driving
C1 (+ or -)

Sensorimotor Proficiency
in Driving
S1(+ or -)

(1) respect for regulations and self-control
vs.
(10) disrespect for authority and deficient self-control

(2) knowledge and awareness

vs.
(11) untrained and faulty thinking

(3) correct actions and alertness

vs.
(12) faulty actions and inattention

One skill I have is signaling before changing lanes.  First, I say “I want to change lanes” (affective).  Then I think “I have to signal so people know what I’m doing” (cognitive).  Finally, I physically change lanes by turning the wheel and putting pressure on the gas (sensorimotor).  One of my errors is bad-mouthing people who don’t signal before changing lanes.  First, I get scared (affective), then, I think to myself “I hate it when people scare me like that!” and finally, I shout “Argh! You are such an idiot!” (sensorimotor). 

Usually, no one can hear the obscene comments I make because my windows are rolled up.  But if they did, I would probably get into trouble, so I should change this habit.  My driving personality makeover will consist of 3 stages that I repeat over and over again:  Acknowledge, witness, and modify.  I will do the first two steps by keeping a journal where I list my faults (acknowledge) and record actual instances of when I caught myself making these mistakes (witness).  Then, I will physically change this specific behavior when I drive.  This is something I will have to repeat constantly if I am to become a lifelong good driver.  Since this is a long, arduous task, it will be impossible not to stray at least once in a while.  However, I think it is much easier to do this than live a life as a stressed, angry driver.  I will just have to repeat this to myself whenever I feel like giving up.

Question 2:

Give a brief review of our two textbooks: Road Rage and Aggressive Driving (James and Nahl), and Driving Lessons: Exploring Systems That Make Traffic Safer (Peter Rothe, Editor). The reviews should be between 3 and 6 paragraphs for each text. Select one Chapter from each text and give a summary of it. Discuss in what way will these ideas contribute to society's driving problems.

­­The book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving by Leon James and Diane Nahl looks at driving behavior, in particular, road rage, from a psychological standpoint.  The articles are separated into three parts:  The conflict mentality, driving psychology, and the future of driving.  These articles look at why people have road rage and how to remedy it.  It lists theories and principles such as the Jekyll-Hyde syndrome and passive-aggressive road rage.  There are many checklists and suggestions on how to improve oneself as a driver such as the three-step driver self-improvement program. 

In this book, James and Nahl look at the concept of road rage and why it is an increasing worldwide phenomenon.  Emphasis is put on the “choice” we as drivers have to become angry.  It also takes into account the role that fighting for status plays in displaying road rage (especially among men).  Passengers and children are not ignored I this book.  It talks about how passengers and drivers affect each other and how children are exposed to years of road rage even before they are old enough to drive. 

I think this is a wonderful book and found it very helpful because it teaches you that you have control of your driving experience.  Despite the fact that people around you may do as they please, you can control your emotions and actions in response to your surroundings.  Principles are illustrated with examples of real-life situations and practical exercises for improving your driving skills are given.  I would recommend this book to anyone who drives because its focus is on helping you become a better driver.  I think if more people learned about these ideas and did these exercises, our roads would be safer. 

Chapter 6 of this book is about the three-step driver self-improvement program.  The program aims to help drivers develop emotional intelligence, or to manage emotions while driving.  The first step is to acknowledge that you need a better understanding of road rage.  You cannot change a habit without acknowledging it first.  The second step is to self-witness yourself in the act of the habit you want to change.  This is done so the material is available to reflect upon later.  The third step is to modify the behavior.  These steps must be repeated continuously if one is to become a good driver in life. 

Other topics discussed in chapter 6 are resistance to change and irrational driving rules.  All drivers resist changing their style at first, but this gradually goes away because driving without inner pressure to be competitive and criticize others is safer and more enjoyable.  Irrational driving rules are assumptions about driving that are groundless and only add to stress.  Some irrational driving rules are:  1. I must make all lights. 2. I must go as fast as possible. 3. If someone passes me, I’m going to slow. 

The three-step program has great potential in lessening society’s driving problems.  It makes it possible for each individual to improve their driving.  If more people did this, the roads would be safer and more enjoyable.  The book also made a good point in saying that irrational driving rules should not always be followed.  If society is conscious of this, we may be less vulnerable to them, making roads less stressful and competitive. 

Driving Lessons:  Exploring Systems that Make Traffic Safer by J. Peter Rothe discusses traffic safety in respect to three sub-systems:  Personal, institutional, and technical.  For the personal subsystem, there are articles about how social behavior and lifestyle affects driving.  A key topic is the threefold self.  This includes the three selves the driver needs to manage (affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor).  The section on institutional sub-systems discusses traffic in relation to large organizations and how they interact.  This includes the influence that economics, the law, media, and education have on traffic.  The third section, the technical subsystem, features articles about technical devices in relation to traffic.  The road itself, with its rumble strips and highway slopes is a technical device.  One device that has largely impacts driving is the cell phone.

This book looks at driving as a complex and important task, not a menial, automatic one like many of us have come to think.  I think that is a great feature of this book.  It reminds you to take driving seriously.  Another good quality of this book is that it shows the interaction of the different sub-systems and how it affects traffic.  Prior to reading this book, I had never thought about that.  However, it’s good to realize that each sub-system is self-interested and operates in different ways. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a more thorough understanding of the traffic system.  However, it is hard to understand because of its elaborate language.  This book requires meticulous reading, so I would recommend it to those who want to explore traffic, but for someone looking to improve their driving, I would recommend Road Rage and Aggressive Driving.

Chapter 10 of this book is on Dispatchers and Drivers.  Dispatchers have a lot of informal power over drivers.  This chapter focused on truckers.  Their dispatchers tell them where to drive, when to arrive, and how much they will be paid for it.  This power is often abused because the drivers need to make enough money to make a living.  They can assign loads and hours according to which drivers they prefer and may force drivers to work longer than they are legally allowed.  This compromises road safety as well as the health of the drivers.  Many drivers go on amphetamines to stay awake for such long periods of time.  Then, because drivers work longer than what is legal, they must break laws like cheating on logbooks.  They also speed if they are only given a short amount of time to deliver a load.  This kind of treatment, as well as bad-mouthing or scolding makes drivers emotional, and that means compromised safety. 

The points this chapter makes about the influence of dispatchers and drivers have a lot of potential in making the roads safer.  I was shocked to find out that dispatchers have so much power and truckers have to go through so much.  Even though my father is a taxi driver, I didn’t know many of these things until after I read this article.  I think if people stepped back and realized the things truckers have to go through, they would take action (and some have) in making conditions better.  Some ways of doing this is to hire the right kind of people to be dispatchers and by training them to be more supportive. 

Question 3: 

Discuss these two Web sites: drivers.com vs. drdriving.org What are their main differences? Be sure to consider at least these areas: articles, newsletters, letters, style, probable audience, public relations or policy, advertising, size, ranking.

Drivers.com and drdriving.org are similar in the fact they are very informative and offer advice about how to improve your driving experience.  However, I found major differences in these areas:  Articles, newsletters, letters, style, probable audience, advertising, size, and ranking. 

In terms of articles, drivers.com had articles that “popped out” at you.  In my opinion, the articles were like newspaper articles or news programs on TV.  Meaning, they used catchy hooks and tried to lure you in.  The articles on drivers.com list the authors, but no background on them.  Also, I found a link that said to email them if you wanted to be a writer!   The articles on drdriving.org were more educational.  They weren’t as catchy, but they were more reliable.  There were statistics and examples that backed up their statements.  They also had credibility because they both have their Ph.D. and wrote books on driving psychology. 

Drivers.com offered a monthly newsletter for free.  I viewed the sample newsletter and found that it wasn’t much different from their website, but without the huge advertisements.  It looked just like a newspaper with big headings and pictures with captions.  I could not find a newsletter on dr.driving.com, but I did find a lot “Dear dr. driving” letters.  My assumption is that this is because of the size of the website, or the number of people operating it. 

Drivers.com seems to be run by a large group of people and target a large group of people, which is probably why they use a newsletter.  Drdriving.com seems to be run by only Dr. James and Dr. Nahl and target a smaller audience, which is probably why I couldn’t find a newsletter but did see many letters and their responses to those letters. 

As I mentioned, it seems drivers.com targets a larger audience and drdriving.org target a smaller one.  Another difference in terms of audience is drivers.com target a more generic audience while drdriving.org targets a more academic audience.  My reason for thinking this is that the advertisements at drivers.com are large and consist of large companies like Firestone.  Their style is similar to TV, where they expect their audience to be mindlessly watching the program, so they try to show as many advertisements and catchy lines as possible.  Drdriving.org has few pictures and no advertisements, except for their book.  The style is more academic-geared, as if you are on your own to read what interests you.  I think it suits college students well.

As for ranking, I’d rank both of these websites pretty high, but I’d rank drdriving.org a little higher than drivers.com because of my own preference.  They are both good websites, but drdriving.org is more helpful to me.  There is so much credible material and many suggestions on how to become a better driver.  Drivers.com has a wide variety of articles to appease a large group of people, but these articles were not as helpful for me. 

Question 5:

Consider Table 5 in the Lecture Notes, in the Section on Driving Psychology Theory and Charts at  www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/409a-g21-lecture-notes.htm#Charts  Consult the article from which the Table was taken. Copy and paste the table into your file. Now delete the examples in each cell and replace them with your own examples that you make up. Discuss why driving is such a big problem in all societies and why no effective solutions have yet been found for them. Discuss the solutions offered by Dr. Leon James (DrDriving). What likelihood is there that his approach will be adopted? Explain.

Table 5
Emotionally Intelligent Driver Personality Skills
 

Driver Competence Skills

Aggressive
NEGATIVE DRIVING

Supportive
POSITIVE DRIVING

Not
Emotionally Intelligent
(REPTILIAN DRIVING)
 

Emotionally
Intelligent
(CORTICAL DRIVING)
 

1. Focusing on self vs. blaming others or the situation

“Why is this person going so slow? I’m going to be late for school!”
 

“I should’ve left earlier.  I didn’t allow myself enough time to get to school on time.”

2. Understanding how feelings and thoughts act together


"I’m scared! Why is he driving like that?!”
 

"Even though I’m scared, I can’t let that affect my thoughts, or else I’m compromising my safety.”
 

3. Realizing that anger is something we choose vs. thinking it is provoked
 

"He really pissed me off by doing that.”

"It’s not his fault I’m angry.  It’s my fault I chose to be angry.”

4. Being concerned about consequences vs. giving in to impulse

"I’m so mad, I want to just give him the finger.”

"If I make obscene gestures, I risk the possibility of him getting angry and causing harm to me.”
 

5. Showing respect for others and their rights vs. thinking only of oneself


"These people shouldn’t be passing me.  It annoys me and I’m not even going slow.”


"I shouldn’t let it bother me that people are passing me.  Maybe they are rushing to go to an event.”
 

6. Accepting traffic as collective team work vs. seeing it as individual competition

"All I have to worry about is myself.  If I get where I want when I want, then everything is fine.”
 

"I should keep up with traffic so I don’t cause any other drivers trouble.  I’ll still get to my destination.”
 

7. Recognizing the diversity of drivers and their needs and styles vs. blaming them for what they choose to do
 

"Why is that woman putting on her makeup while driving? Stupid lady.” 

"Everyone drives differently.  I just need to be careful around people who multi-task in case they aren’t paying attention to the road.”
 

8. Practicing positive role models vs. negative

"That man didn’t signal before cutting in front of me.  I should have bumped into his rear end so he can pay me for my bumper.”
 

"I can’t control what other drivers do, but I can be alert to avoid collisions.”
 

9.  Learning to inhibit the impulse to criticize by developing a sense of driving humor

"I hate rubber-neckers! I want to yell at them!”
 

"I’m angry, but I should make the best out of this situation.  I’ll feel better if I just let it go. And to your right is exhibit 1. Thank you for not eating or drinking in the museum.”

10. Taking driving seriously by becoming aware of one’s mistakes and correcting them

"I’m a better driver than all of these people!”

"I am a very inexperienced driver and must work on my cognitive, affective, and sensorimotor driving skills.”

Driving is a big problem all over the world.  This is due to the fact that all drivers are human, which means being emotional.  Our affective self affects our cognitive and sensorimotor selves.  Since driving can be a life or death situation, many of us become very emotional on the road.  This can cause us to become impaired in terms of thoughts and actions.  This problem often takes the form of aggressive driving.  As chapter 5 of Road Rage (James & Nahl) says, anger intensifies aggressiveness and judgment becomes impaired accordingly.  Many people don’t even realize this happens to them.  If they did, they would be better able to control it. 

Despite efforts to remedy this problem, it still persists.  One reason for this is the “resistance to change” phenomenon.  Everyone has adopted their own style subconsciously is stubborn to change.  Another reason is the “risk homeostasis” phenomenon.  Although cars and roads are constantly being made safer, people feel the need to experience the same amount of risk.  Therefore, they drive more dangerously with their safe cars and safe roads.  For example, a girl in our class doesn’t wear her seatbelt.  Maybe if there was no airbag, she would be more likely to. 

However, that would not make conditions safer, it would only make it relatively the same.  Eliminating safety features is also unacceptable by moral standards.  So the best solution is education.  Dr. James suggested K-12 driving education.  I think this is a good idea; kindergarteners don’t need to learn about actually driving, but they can benefit from self-assessment and affective skills.  Children can also learn to be good passengers.  When they get older, they can learn about cognitive and sensorimotor skills.  These things can be taught in a number of classes since these are skills they can use in many areas.  The more mature population should also be educated about phenomenon like resistance to change and risk homeostasis.  If more people were conscious of these habits, they are more likely to be able to change them. 

Other solutions Dr. James offered are quality driving circles (QDC) and the three-step driver improvement program.  QDCs are meant to motivate drivers to practice self-improvement programs.  The three step driver improvement program is one such program.  If each driver works on him/herself, then the improvement will someday manifest itself on the road. 

Even though I feel these are great ideas that have tremendous potential, honestly, I think it will be a struggle to implement.  This is because people are stubborn and lazy.  Many people don’t take the time to think critically about driving because the popular attitude is that it’s just a mundane task.  However, I do think it is possible.  By alerting the public to the seriousness of driving and its problems, they will become concerned for their safety.  I think the main problem now is increasing awareness.  That’s why education is key.  When people realize their weaknesses, they are better able to change them.  Spreading the word and implementing K-12 driver education programs are good ideas, but it will require adequate funding from the government. 

Question 6:  (Extra Credit)

Analyze the Student Newsgroups Reports at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/499s2003/newsgroups to characterize the threefold self of the drivers that wrote the messages. Find 10 brief quotes from the messages they posted, and analyze each one, showing the character of their threefold self. Discuss the writer's philosophy or psychology of driving. Comment in the light of what you know from Driving psychology in this course using the ideas and perspective from our two textbooks.

1.  “It's a jungle out there. well, not really: it's worse than a jungle. It's a stretch of roadway anywhere in America, and in place of the ravenous tigers and stampeding rhinos and slithery anacondas are your friends and neighbors and co-workers, that nice lady from the church choir and the cheerful kid who bags your food at the local Winn Dixie--even Mom and Dad and Buddy and Sis. They're in a hurry. And you're in their way. So step on it! That light is not going to get any greener! Move it or park it! Tarzan had it easy. Tarzan didn't have to drive to work. 

This is a quote that shows how nice people, like your friends and family, turning into competitive monsters on the road.  The affective self is saying that these are nice people, yet the cognitive self is saying that you have to be aggressive in order to survive out there because of what everyone else is doing.  Why do nice people become aggressive behind the wheel?  For one thing, they are not “people” anymore.  Everyone is in a car, and it makes it more acceptable to not be polite anymore.  Also, driving is stressful.  People get angry, and in a car, they are not afraid to show it.  If everyone’s threefold self was developed, then the roads wouldn’t be so competitive because they would all be supportive and concerned for each other.

2.  So many miles, so little time. For Ron Remer, 47, a soft-spoken salesman, offensive driving was simply part of the job. From his home in New Haven, Conn., he logged 30,000 miles a year selling promotional products. "People on the road were an impediment to my progress," he says. "If I was late, it would reflect badly on me. Maybe the customer wouldn't want the products, and I'd be out of a sale. Getting there was the only thing that was important. If I met you in person, I might invite you for coffee or something. But on the road, you were in my way. “”

This quote shows Remer’s affective self as feeling stressed because if he didn’t arrive on time, it would affect his work.  His cognitive self is thinking that he’s a nice guy, but on the road, he’s not because he has to make money.  Remer’s sensorimotor self is telling him to drive aggressively to get to his destination on time.  This fits the idea that we are all self-serving people.  Remer is more concerned about doing what he needs to than being a supportive driver and thus does not have a developed three-fold self.

3.  “Remer says he's reformed now, having had one of those little epiphanies that sometimes come to people who are pulled over by the state police. He was stopped one night on the narrow and unlighted Merritt Parkway in Connecticut after a high-speed race with another car, and soon thereafter he enrolled in a seminar for aggressive drivers. "I was lucky to recognize my problem and try to fix it," he says.”

This quote is also by Remer, but this time, his entire outlook changed.  In this quote, his affective self received a big shock.  He no longer felt that it was okay to be an aggressive driver.  His cognitive self realized that he had a problem, and his sensorimotor self took action to fix it by going to a seminar for aggressive drivers.  His philosophy of driving seems to have changed from being a rushing maniac to being a supportive driver.

4.  At night, British drivers seldom dip their lights for approaching traffic. The glare can get very bad at times. I learned to drive here in the UK about 2 years ago and I believed the same thing for quite a while. Until an approaching car didn't dip their lights and I realised that most other drivers lights' *were* dipped but still very bright. Maybe European headlights are brighter than in the US? Driving seems to be more aggressive and dangerous in the cities. Personally I try and avoid driving into a city unless it is really necessary.

This driver was self-serving because he was more concerned with avoiding glare by dipping his lights than about blinding other drivers, which is normal.  He only changed his behavior after he was on the other end of things and experienced a problem with undipped lights.  His affective self was saying he didn’t appreciate the blinding lights.  His cognitive self experienced contradiction:  “Why is it okay for me to do this to other people when I don’t like it being done to me?”  So therefore, his sensorimotor self took action to change it.

5.  A research by Car and Driver shows that the fatality rate of US Highways is actually a bit higher then the Germany SuperFreeway (no speed limit.) In Germany the avg. speed is 75 mph, in US the avg. speed is 58 mph. And yet despite the "save speed" avg. US still have a slight HIGHER fatality rate on highways.

My suggestion is that maybe establishing your own speed limit forces you to exercise your three-fold self.  People in Germany may have to depend on their affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor selves to determine if they feel they are speeding too fast and going out of control and then decide if they should slow down.  But people in the US may depend on the speed limit and not their emotions and thoughts.  Americans may feel safe if they are under the speed limit instead of thinking critically like they should.

6.  On USENET I've actually seen people "defending" tailgating and other stupid aggressive behavior (LOSER behavior) on the road. People who exhibit this kind of driving behavior exist to form the back side of the IQ bell curve. They not only pollute the road environment but are frequently a danger to others. In the Phoenix area it's gotten bad enough that the first steps are being proposed to deal with the problems they cause for decent society.

 I feel that this person is being an automotive vigilante in text.  It’s good that he is trying to enforce good driving behavior, but he is doing so in a way that is aggressive as well.  I think his affective self took over here because he was so outraged at these aggressive drivers’ behavior, he forgot to be supportive.

7.  Yeah, I've been frustrated all to hell many times over elderly folks who just don't seem to have all their faculties about them. A dangerous thing in a car. That's when frequent driver testing should be done, and licenses taken away when appropriate I agree and I think that testing should start right from the word"go" >Drivers should have a Test every five years thoughout their Driving Life. It would get a lot of idiots who think they are the only ones on the road that count off the road.

Throwing things out of your car is not nice but neither is driving and polluting. It's just the degree of niceness we're talking about. Again, some people are just nicer than others. That's all.

Enough 'understanding' for a day. What really gets me is all these big minivans and SUVs. They block your view. Ever been behind a big Lincoln Navigator? There are so many of them on the road now. Talk about pollution.

This driver seems angry that people don’t do what he thinks is right.  He is overlooking the fact that the world is full of diverse individuals who do things differently.  Yes, It’s important to have social conformity so that things run smoothly.  Better testing should be implemented, and polluting is inconsiderate.  But this person is also making a mistake, and that is not being supportive and giving people the benefit of the doubt.  He is choosing to be angry (affective self), and that doesn’t fix anything. 

8.  Regarding violent/hostile drivers who are behind you and acting like they want to get a hold of you....I put my hands at the 10 and 2 positions of the wheel and display my ample 90 inch 'wingspan' and flap those wings....that is a clear message to them to get off my butt...if that doesn't work I put my hand up in the air (without giving them the bird or anything)just to let them see the hands that desire to be wrapped around their necks....I realize ladies might not feel comfortable doing that...Henry Jackson”

This person does not seem to be using his cognitive self.  Maybe if he did, he would see that he is being an aggressive driver, the very thing that he dislikes.  He is acting out of his affective self and not taking responsibility for his actions. 

9.  “The most aggressive drivers I see on the roads are those darned SUV drivers! I don't know if driving such a tank gives one a sense of superiority over all the little peons in sedans, or if people with aggressive or superior attitudes to begin with have more of a tendency toward buying such vehicles.-- ^,,^”

This person is generalizing that people who drive SUVs are aggressive.  While generalizing can have it’s downfalls in terms of accuracy, this person makes a good point in saying that maybe SUVs don’t make people aggressive, maybe aggressive people buy SUVs.  This person is using his cognitive self.  His philosophy seems to be that people are responsible for their actions.

10.  My experience is that the people who 'forget' to turn on their headlights are the same ones that are tailgating, speeding excessively, fail to use their turn signals, etc.

And might I add to Walt's gripe the idiots driving around in semi- darkness without their lights on, or only their parking lights. Sure, they might be able to see where they're going, but no one can see them!

This person is stereotyping people who don’t turn their headlights on as reckless drivers.  While this may or may not be true, believing this can be dangerous.  He probably does not have a fully developed threefold self because those who do would be concerned for this person’s safety more than their own irritation.  I think anyone can forget to turn on their headlights at one time or another.  He is right, however, that it is dangerous to drive at night without turning on your headlights and we should all be more cautious to turn on our headlights as well as watch out for people who don’t.

Question 7:

Our textbook Road Rage and Aggressive Driving has exercises in several chapters. Do the following four exercises: (a) Exercise on scenario analysis on p. 205; (b) Exercise on acting as-if on p.128; (c) Exercise on self-assessment on p. 134; and (d) Checklist of your road rage tendency on p. 40. What were your reactions to the exercises? Discuss how these exercises help you to become more aware of yourself as a driver. Do some of the exercises with another driver you know. How do they help you understand some principles of driving psychology?

The first exercise I did was the scenario analysis.  This scenario was about a 16 year-old boy who drove with his friend looking for a party.  They lost the address, and drove around but couldn’t find the place.  On the way home, a driver in a black SUV pulled up really close behind his friend’s car.  Then, the SUV swerved around cars as to get ahead, but ended up behind the boys after a while.  The boys decided to play a prank on him, which was to drive tandem in from of him slowly.  This enraged the driver of the SUV and he pulled a gun on them, leading to a high speed chase which ended in the boys getting tickets for reckless driving.  Table 9.2 in the text lists 13 things the teenager did that made up his unrecognized road rage behavior.  I am to come up with how each step contributed to trouble and what should have been done for each step.

Some suggestions I made was that he should have left earlier, especially if they didn’t have the address.  They also could have asked the friend who threw the party for his address.  These steps contributed to trouble because they were driving in an unfamiliar place late at night.  I found this exercise fun and informative.  It was interesting to see what kind of behavior contributes to trouble and coming up with alternate behavior was helpful.  This exercise made it easier to understand why you should follow some of the basic safety suggestions people always give you like not driving in an unfamiliar place.  It also illustrated the “self-serving bias” theory because the teenager tried to blame the incident on the driver of the SUV instead of taking responsibility for it.  Now I realize that when I make these mistakes myself, I am behaving foolishly and could face serious consequences like this boy. 

The exercise on acting as if required me to be supportive of other drivers throughout the course of a trip.  I did this with my boyfriend and found that it was more peaceful than the oppositional driving style.  For example, when someone took our parking spot, we just joked, “Ok, I’ll just park in this nicer stall.” (even though it was the same).  However, I found it hard to keep my composure sometimes, like when I was afraid we’d get into a collision.  But when I was able to keep calm, it was an enjoyable experience.  I became aware of my impulsiveness by doing this exercise.  I realized that although I feel angry at one moment, if I don’t dwell on it, it goes away quickly.  I feel this is an important thing to know because it helps motivate you to keep calm.

For the next exercise, assessing myself as a driver, I was to list my best and worst driving traits and then have my passenger fill out the same list.  I listed my best traits as not speeding, yielding for others, and not running red lights.  I wrote that my worst habits were being hesitant to go at an intersection and letting my mind drift.  My friend’s list was almost the same as mine.  I had mixed feelings about this.  Although I was glad that I could accurately asses myself, I was disappointed that I had these flaws.  This exercise really helped me realize that I need to work on my driving, especially in terms of letting my mind drift.  If I don’t pay attention, I could cause an accident. 

The last exercise was a checklist on my road rage tendency.  I had to answer 20 yes or no questions and at then end, I was to give myself a point for each yes answer.  Less than 5 means your road rage is manageable, 5-10 is moderate, and greater than 10 means it is out of control.  I scored a 5, which means I am at the lower end of what is considered moderate road rage.  I thought this exercise was an interesting way to measure one’s road rage.  Answering these questions forces me to think about my driving behavior.  I was able to see things I do that I shouldn’t, like driving faster than what feels comfortable because I think I’m holding up traffic.  I really shouldn’t drive faster than what’s comfortable for me.  It’s good not to hold up traffic, but it’s better to know my limits.  This is something I need to work on.  I need to gain better understanding of my limits and not succumb to pressure or bad judgment.  All of these exercises helped me realize what my weaknesses are.  If I reflect on it later, like with the exercise on self-assessment, I can see what I did wrong.  Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that I must continue to acknowledge what my mistakes are because then I will know what I need to change.   

Advice to Future Generations:

Discuss about what students should know to succeed in this course and what they can expect to get out of it.

On the first day of school, I was surprised to learn that this class was about driving psychology.  I didn’t even know such a discipline existed.  When I registered for this course, it was just titled “general topics.”  I thought it was going to be an overview of various fields of psychology.  However, I’m glad I stumbled into taking this course.  I’ve learned so much valuable information in such a short amount of time.  I want future generations to know that this is a subject that concerns the quality and longevity of your life and those around you.   Also, this is a subject that is very important, and almost no one talks about it!  That is why I feel this is such a valuable course

Taking into account the importance of the knowledge this course provides you, I want to tell future generations not to give up.  There were some instances where I felt overwhelmed with the presentations and reports.  But here I am, writing the end of my last report, and I am grateful I survived it.  It has made me more adept at public speaking and making outlines.  I have learned things I can apply to other areas in my life, like self-witnessing and self-modification skills.  Also, I now know that I can choose how I want to respond to events that happen to me.  This means I can choose to be more optimistic regardless of the situation.  This will improve the quality of my life overall.  I hope that in the future, driving psychology will be mainstream knowledge and everyone will practice its principles in various areas of life.  Good luck!

Class Home Page: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/classhome-g21.htm

My Home Page: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409af2004/hoang/home.htm