My Driving Personality Makeover Project

By: Shari Arakawa-Longboy



  1. Preface:

1A. Overview of Report 1

The goal of report 1 was to help us define and understand what "driving psychology" is and to help us identify our driving personality. In report 1, we gave a general idea of what "Driving Psychology" is about. We also provided a few useful definitions to terms that are frequently used when talking about driving psychology. The definitions provided in report 1 are essential to understanding what is meant by "driving psychology." In addition, each student wrote an autobiography of ourselves as a driver. We wrote about how our parents, peers, and the media influenced our driving styles. The purpose of the autobiography was to help us trace the influences on our driving styles and behaviors. For more information on report 1, click here: Report 1

1B. Overview of Report 2:

The purpose of this report (report 2) is to identify our driving style, driving philosophy and to modify it. In this report, we design an experiment that will help us to change our driving persona, by first conducting a self-assessment. The self-assessment will help me to identify the problematic areas of my driving philosophy and then from there, I will attempt to modify my driving behavior through an experiment designed to target my problematic areas. The great thing about this assignment is that it will not only help us to become safer drivers, but we are also able to apply this to our daily lives. We can learn to become happier, less stressed people overall and therefore lead healthier lives.

1C. Before We Get Started:

Before we get started, I wanted to provide you with a few helpful definitions that will help you to understand the terminology a little better. For more information on these definitions, please refer to Report 1


The driver’s threefold self:

The threefold self encompasses three domains of the driver’s behavior: affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor.

 Self-witnessing methodology:

 Road Rage:

 The Driver’s Emotional Intelligence:


1. Introduction: Objective Self-Assessment

In order to get started on my driving personality makeover, I first needed to take a few self-assessment tests/checklists. Like I said earlier, the goal of the self-assessments are to help me identify the problematic areas of my driving style and/or philosophy. Each checklist is designed to target different areas of the driving personality. The first self-assessment that I took is called "Your Road Rage Tendency." This can be found on page 40 of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving by Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl. The second checklist that I chose is called "Your Verbal Road Rage Tendency. This can be found on page 92 of our textbooks. The third checklist that I used is called "Witnessing your aggressive driving" found on page 140 – 143.


2A. "Your Road Rage Tendency."

The purpose of this test was to give a general idea of what level of emotional intelligence you, as a driver, are at. The checklist helps you to assess four critical elements that create habitual road rage:

The assessment consists of twenty yes or no questions. After taking the test, you are supposed to give yourself a point for every "yes." The higher the score, the more likely you will become involved in road rage.

My score was eleven. That means that my road rage tendency is way out of control. My score from this checklist really made me realize that my driving philosophy really needed a makeover. For each of the four elements, I scored seven out of seven for "Your angry theory," three out four for "Your driving philosophy," six out of six for "your habit of compulsive rushing or feeling competitive," and one our of 3 for "oversensitivity to social pressure." Here is a graph to make my results easier to read:


2B. "Your Verbal Road Rage Tendency"

According to Dr. James and Dr. Nahl, verbal road rage is defined as the habit of constantly complaining about the traffic, keeping up a stream of mental or spoken attacks against drivers, passengers, law enforcement officials, road workers, pedestrians, speed limits and road sign. Verbal road rage is any type of swearing, cursing, or complaining while driving. It is a form of short-term relief for frustrated drivers. Many people, including myself, are unaware of our verbal road rage because it is so habitual that we do not notice how often we do it. The purpose of this checklist to determine if whether or not we have verbal road rage. In this checklist, there are twelve statements of verbal road rage. Out of the twelve statements, I scored eight. This means that I answered yes to more than 66% of the statements, indicating that I definitely have verbal road rage.

2C. "Witnessing Your Aggressive Driving"

This checklist was my favorite one. This checklist is divided into three parts: Witnessing your emotions (affective), witnessing your thoughts (cognitive), and witnessing your actions (behavior). As you can see, this checklist assesses all of the three domains of the three-fold-self. The first section of the checklist (affective) consists of fourteen statements and two "other" statements. The "other" statements are an opportunity for you to add other statements that are not listed in the checklist. For example, as an "other", I listed that I feel anger when someone cuts me off – because it was not listed in the checklist. As a result of the first section, I scored eleven out of fifteen. This means that my emotional intelligence is very low.

The second section (cognitive) of the checklist consists of fourteen statements and two "other" statements. As an "other" statement, I added that I justify that the speed limit should be faster. Out of the fifteen statements, I scored five. Although I scored relatively lower in this section than I did in other assessments, I still need some work in this domain.

The third section (behavior) of this checklist consists of twenty-one statements and two "other" statements. In addition to the twenty-one statements I added one of my own. I added that I get mad at pedestrians who cross slowly or who cross when I could have gone. Out of the twenty-two statements, I scored fourteen! This is really bad! I definitely need to modify my driving behavior.

2D. Results of 2B and 2C.

The following is a chart that compares the scores of the three domains of 2C as well as verbal road rage from 2B.


3. My Driver Self-Modification Attempt:

Although I could not find the same EXACT experiment in the prior generations, I decided to follow Generation 2. Generation 2 had a similar assignment where they had to attempt to makeover their driving personality. Although their instructions were a little different in that they did not have to take various questionnaires or have data tables in their reports, the overall goal was the same.

3A. Design of my experiment

The design on my experiment is quite simple. I chose to use the AWM (Acknowledge, Witness, and Modify) strategy to go about this experiment. The checklists that I talked about in the previous section have helped me to acknowledge myself as a "bad" driver who definitely needs a makeover! During this experiment, I self-witnessed myself as a driver by tape recording myself while driving. After gathering my initial data (baseline), it was time for the intervention process. At this stage, my job was to attempt to modify my driving personality. During the intervention, I would again record myself while driving and repeat the process of gathering my data. My attempt was to modify the three domains, which was inclusive of verbal road rage, rolling at stop signs, and speeding. Both gathering processes (baseline and intervention) consisted of a total of ten trips (to and from school).

3A.1. Initial data

During my initial gathering of data, I spoke out loud all of my thoughts, actions, and feelings. I did this for a total of ten times. At the end of each day, I would come home and listen to myself. I did not like what I heard! I counted the number of times I swore, drove recklessly, thought critically, and felt negative. For driving recklessly, I decided to count the number of times I rolled at a stop sign and the number of times of sped. Each driving trip consisted of 3-5 stop signs. To make it easier, I average all ten driving trips together. Each drive lasted approximately fifteen minutes.

3A.2. Intervention

During my intervention, I tried various techniques to increase my patience and to lower my stress level while driving. For the negative emotions, critical thoughts, and swearing, I would try to leave my house early enough to allow myself more than enough time to find parking, walk to my class, and to find a good seat in class. I would also listen to relaxing music like Krater 96.3. Every time another driver upset me, I would try to think of positive things – things that make me happy. I would also try not to take other drivers’ actions personally.

For my behavior domain, every time I got to a stop sign or felt like speeding, I tried to remind myself that such laws are here for a reason. I constantly reminded myself that stop signs and speed limits are here for our protection and that stopping for a few seconds or driving the speed limit was not going to hurt me or slow me down that much more. I would constantly ask myself, "is speeding really worth someone’s life or my life?" I would think things like, "what if I hurt or even killed someone’s parent, grandparent, or sibling, just because I was being impatient for no good reason at all?" The results over ten driving trips:

3B. Analysis and Discussion:

I have to admit that it was very difficult to get rid of these bad habits in the beginning. Although I have not completely conquered my bad habits, the following table will show you that I have considerably improved.


By using self-witnessing methodology, I was able to distinctively target my problematic areas of my driving personality. In the data that I have collected, my baseline shows me that my emotional intelligence was relatively low. Listening to the recordings of myself also showed me that I barely had any emotional intelligence. I witnessed myself having no control over my emotions. Instead of being in control of my emotions, my emotions were in control of me. In doing this experiment, I learned that relaxation techniques (the first component in inhibiting venting) really do work. I also learned that the type of music you listen to while driving really does matter.

This experiment also showed me that all three types of road rage exist in me. Although I did not measure how many times I cut people off or block people out of my lane, I did notice from my recordings that I do participate in epic road rage. I definitely have verbal and quit road rage. By listening to my recordings, I realized that almost every other word out of my mouth while driving is swearing words. I also realized that I am constantly rushing, even when I am not late (although not being late is not the case most of the time!).

 One of the trends that I notice in my data charts is that negative emotions, critical thoughts, and swearing kind of go hand in hand. It seems like if I can get rid of my negative thoughts and emotions, then my swearing score will go down. I think the negative emotions and thoughts are a critical factor in my verbal road rage. If you look at the following chart, you will see that I have rearranged the order of domains. By doing so, I have noticed that the negative emotions and critical thoughts are also a factor in my behavior. When the negative emotions and thoughts are higher, so are the behavior aspects. In the baseline trend, it seems as though when the negative emotions are present, the critical thoughts increase as well as the swearing and speeding. But when the negative emotions and thoughts are lower, the behavior aspects, verbal road rage, and critical thoughts seem relatively stable.

 3C. Conclusion and Future Plans

The implication of my baseline findings is that I really do need to change. I am very serious about changing because just from my intervention I can already feel the difference. The intervention has been a positive experience for me even though it was kind of hard in the beginning. It was positive for me because I feel better about myself as a whole. I feel good that I am starting to have control over my emotions instead of the other way around. As a result, I need to keep on my intervention until these good habits become habits. I feel that I should also look at other aspects of my behavior domain and try to change them as well.

As a result of my experiment, I am also going to try to change by husband’s driving personality. I think I have enough proof for him that bad habits are indeed breakable. As a result from this experiment, my husband also noticed that I was a happier a person when I cam home from school. I definitely plan to continue my modification.

4. Conclusion

As a result from this experiment, I realized that I could change. I realized that these bad habits are breakable, but it just takes a little work. Breaking my bad habits is totally worth it. Although I have not completely conquered my bad habits, I can already start to feel the difference in my daily life. I am much happier when I get home from school and I am a lot less stressed! I am able to enjoy life as whole much better than I used to. As a result of my findings, I realize that I changing my driving personality is the one of the best things I could do for myself.

This assignment has helped me to identify my driving style and philosophy by self-witnessing and taking the questionnaires in the textbook. The questionnaires really helped to realize that I am a horrible and dangerous driver. The questionnaires were just the beginning of me realizing what kind of driver I was. The aspect that really opened my eyes was self-witnessing. I chose to record myself because I felt that it was the best way to witness myself. Whereas, if I was to recall from memory and write down my actions and thoughts, it might not have been true. I might have been biased when recalling my driving experience. Recording yourself, to me, is the best way to self-witnessing.

In my opinion, this experiment is useful because it really forces you to witness yourself. It also shows you that no matter how you think you cannot change, you really can. Everyone has the ability to change – it just takes a little work. This experiment proved to me that the little work involved in changing is totally worth it. Like I said earlier, I already feel the positive effects in my daily life and relationships. I am a happier person overall and I am also able to apply these concepts in everyday situations that have nothing to do with driving.

My views have really changed since the beginning of the semester. In the beginning I honestly thought, "okay, what could this class possibly teach me that I don’t already know?" Boy was I wrong! Yes, most of the things we learn in this class are common sense. But applying it to yourself and living the outcomes are totally different. Anyone can read the book and say it makes total sense. But when you actually try to apply the concepts to yourself, it is a whole different story.

For me, living the outcome of this experiment is one of the best experiences I have had. Because I am not as stressed from driving anymore, I have a lot more energy to spend in my relationships with others and I have a lot more to offer to those I love. Taking control over my emotions and actions is a really good feeling for me.


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