Driving Psychology: Theory and Application

By Chris Concepcion


Link to instructions: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy20/g20lecturenotes409a.htm






The context of this course is driving psychology, which entails the wide range of emotions that has to do with driving a vehicle.Mainly the key factor of this course is exploring aggressive driving and what effects it has on the driving population. Driving is one of the daily operations we carryout without thinking and thatís why a lot of times we forget that itís not a simple routine operation.Many of us who drive daily run into to new obstacles and experiences every time we leave our garage.I am excited to be taking a class that explores a side of psychology I never knew existed.Before this class I never thought of analyzing driving from a psychological point of view.I failed to realize that driving aggressively has become a widespread epidemic throughout the U.S.Driving is not a simple operation of going from point A to B; it requires a multitude of emotional decisions to make in order to reach our traveling destinations safely.


I feel that being in Generation 20 of this course will help me understand the many Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydeís of driving.I like many of you have gotten angry with other driverís, but through his course I hope to increase my level of emotional intelligence to become a safer and more supportive driver.


Students of the driving psychology course generally liked to examine the different types of aggressive driving, such as tailgating, driving over the speed limit, racing, cutting in and out of traffic.I also noticed that most of the previous generations enjoyed evaluating their affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor behaviors while driving to observe their levels of aggressiveness.The observation gave students a chance to reflect on their driving behaviors and correct the bad habits that existed, which is the ultimate goal of driving psychology.Being a part of generation 20, Iím excited to continue examining the different aspects of driving psychology.Perhaps I could enhance the already existing knowledge of driving psychology with some of my own research and experience with driving.The more people involved in this course the more people will learn and have a chance to spread the knowledge to the rest of the driving society.


In Caroline Balaticoís Lab Report #1, she makes a good point that oneís driving performance is greatly affected by their emotional state.She also points out that driving in an emotionally aroused state of mind keeps our attention off the road even though this is where it should be.I agree with Caroline because I have done this myself.This type of thing could happen at any moment, perhaps you get into an argument with a girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, father, or friend and you drive away feeling very upset and angered.You take that anger to the roads and now the driverís around you receive this transference of aggression.††


Christine Huisman expresses in her 3rd report noted that everybody thinks they are the perfect driver and there is no need for change.She also points out that if everybody drove the way they took their road test then the roads would be safer.Although once we get our license, our driving attitudes change and we disobey road rules by speeding, tailgating, not stopping at stop signs, and so on.In a perfect world we would have everybody driving like they did when they took their driving test.The fact of the matter is that once we get our license, weíve passed the ultimate test and now we consider ourselves good drivers.Christine makes a keen observation of a kind of driving evolution that all drivers go through.From the beginning, most of us are taught to be cautious, non-aggressive, and pleasant drivers but after a certain amount of exposure to numerous driving conditions we develop a more reckless and fearless attitude when driving.


There are a number of factors that would explain why drivers disobey driving laws, but I would say that impatience and wanting to push the boundaries are at the top of that list.

††††††††††† Lopez, Synthia expresses her feelings on the subject of driving and music.I try to be attentive and responsible when I drive, and I don't believe a specific type of music aids in the process of better driving habits. Driving skills take practice and knowledge about safe driving, not classical tunes. The therapeutic qualities of music apply here, but it may only be part of the entire process of becoming a good driver. There is definitely no harm in listening to whatever music a person believes calms the tension or aggression she/he experiences when driving. My concern is that these individuals could easily fall into the trap of ignoring other possible reasons for bad driving that are irrelevant to music.

††††††††††† This is a good point that Synthia expresses about how music probably doesnít affect driving as much as we think it does.We think too much about the small stuff of driving when we should concentrate on the personís actual driving ability.I canít say that I fully agree with her point on this subject, because music is psychophysical and affective, which means that it can affect our mood, emotion, and physical sensations when driving or doing anything else.The fact is that music is powerful, and music has the ability to draw oneís attention away from the task at hand.If a classical tune you play reminds you of an ex-girlfriend, it can overcome your thoughts with daydreams and even arouse a physical state such as increased heart rate.Synthia falls off the subject in the last sentence because she mentions that there are other factors that contribute to aggressive or bad driving, of course there are but itís not related to your subject at hand.

2. Introduction

The topic of this course is to learn and understand numerous aspects of driving.†† From how traffic occurs, aggressive driving behaviors, and ways on changing oneís aggressive attitude to a safer supportive attitude.Driving Psychology attempts to help us understand driving from three key behavioral components-affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor.The purpose of this course is to analyze driving from a psychological point of view, which will lead us to understand why aggressive driving and road rage occur.Although we may think driving is simple and involves almost no effort, itís exactly the opposite.This course will dissect the emotional aspect of driving and open our minds to understanding a driverís psyche.Our parents, friends, the media, movies, video games, TV, driverís ed course, all affect the way we drive and exploring these sources will help us understand the driving world.


I am definitely involved in this topic because I am a driver and I know what itís like to be emotionally distraught when driving.Many different emotions are involved when driving, but anger is probably at the top of the list.Why anger?Well, itís so easy to be angry.Nobody goes out driving to get angry but there are many bad drivers in this world and when one crosses our path, itís so easy to get pissed.When emotions run high, emotional intelligence runs low and this is what many people fail to realize.In an angry state of mind we donít see the complete picture; we see what we want to see.If someone tailgates me and I get mad, an automatic block forms in my head and I see nothing but a self-serving bias.This automatically leads me to believe only bad things about the driver behind me.Perhaps this person drives so close because they have a hospital emergency to get to, or maybe theyíre late excepting their noble peace prize.Like any other intelligence, emotional intelligence needs to be understood, absorbed, and practiced to be effective.


This topic is meaningful to me because Iíve never used psychology to analyze driving.At this point in my life it is useful because I can understand why you and I drive the way we do.This course teaches effective ways to change bad driving tendencies but it is only as good as oneís effort put in.I myself havenít been in very many driving altercations but Iíve had my fair share of fender-benders and driving psychology can help me deal with the multiple emotions that come into to play when or if I find myself in another accident.


The likely outcome of me having taken this course would be a higher emotional intelligence.Also correcting errors in my driverís threefold self.Driving really comes down to three components: affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor decisions.My self-improved driving skills fall on these three components, if I keep this in mind I should have no problem adjusting my bad road habits.Itís always good to remember do one to others as you would want done to yourself.When the time comes to put this new information into a real situation it may be hard to do at first but thatís why practice makes perfect, or almost.For me this course isnít just about self-improvement, I also like to educate the people around me because the more people understand driving psychology, the safer the roads will be.Iíve already told a few friends about this class and some love the idea of trying to understand why people act the way they do when driving.My goal of this course is to inspire a safer driving psyche for myself those around me.


3. Definitions


1)     The Threefold Self encompasses three human behavioral domains.The affective domain of behavior deals with habits of feelings.Are you positivistic or negativistic?Do you feel hatred towards someone when theyíre signaling to enter your lane, or do you feel good that you could be helping this person out?This is an affective behavior.Next is the cognitive domain of behavior, which deals with habits of thinking and reasoning.I donít think I should let this person in my lane because they will slow me down from getting to my destination.This would be a negative way of thinking, but perhaps youíre positive, then your thoughts may sound like this.I want to let this person in because I neednít make their life more difficult; they just want to get to their destination like I do.The last piece of the pie is sensorimotor domain of behavior, which is habits of sensations and acting out.Everything I just thought and felt I put into action now.


2)     Self-witnessing methodology is a three-step process in which one reconditions their driverís threefold self from negative to positive.First-step is to acknowledge (A) that a certain driving behavior is negative.Second-step is to witness (W) this bad habit in action.Third-step is to modify (M) this habit.I donít like it when people drive really slowly in front of me.Iíve acknowledged that this is a negative habit.Once I go driving I will try to be aware of this negative habit.Now Iím in the process of observing myself get mad when someone drives really slowly in front of me.Finally Iíve acknowledged and witnessed the negative behavior, now it is time to modify this anger to a more understanding interpretation of why this person is driving slowly.Perhaps this person is lost, maybe confused, could be having a stroke, or is just a slow driver.Whatever reason suits you in order to modify this negative reaction is all that is needed to help you change.


3)     According to Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, road rage refers to an extreme state of anger, which ranges from vulgar language and hand gestures to physical assault and even murder.The recorded cases of murderous road rage are few and far between but never the less the roads are getting more dangerous as more cars crowd the roads and highways.Numerous factors can be the cause of road rage for instance, fatigue, competitiveness, frustration, time pressure, traffic congestion, and being insulted are just some reasons why road rage occurs.


4)     Aggressive Driving Legislation as described in Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, is the specific division of the Department of Transportation.Several different boards exist but the most important of which is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).They deal with many aspects of driving such as curbing aggressive driving, making truck, bicycle, and motorcycle travel safer, keeping drivers alert, reducing impaired drivers, sustaining proficiency in older drivers, etc.


5)     The driverís emotional intelligence deals with the limbic brain that is the center of emotions.When someone cuts you off on the highway and you get angry, is that anger sparked from a biased, subjective, and irrational belief that this driver was out to get you?Or do you start off angry, but then deflate that anger through rational counterarguments.If you believe the driver intentionally tried to cut you off, you are continuing to feed the need of anger, which will lead to an irrational response.Emotional intelligence refers to the idea of being able to rationally explain the emotional state one is in.So you are angered at the fact someone cut you off, but without trying to rationally workout the situation leads one to be lacking emotional intelligence.If you are angered at first that is a natural reaction to the situation that just occurred, but once passed that initial stage you have the choice to show emotional intelligence or a lack there of.††


A number of possibilities could exist to understand why you were just cut off, but it is up to you to show yourself how intelligent you are.Possibly this driver is in a rush to get to the hospital where his wife is having a baby, or maybe his house is burning down.Whatever counterargument is used to diffuse oneís angered state is the desired goal, which shows a high level of emotional intelligence.


6)     The driverís emotional spin cycle as I understand it from donovan deals with a positive and a negative base.From there you have two subgroups for both positive and negative.These two subgroups are self and world outlooks.Everybody has their good and bad days and this is how the emotional spin cycle works.Say youíre having a good day, your outlook on yourself is positive.This positive image of self then carries over to the world because if one is happy then they will reflect that positivism to their surroundings which is the rest of the world.It works exactly the same for the negative emotions, if you are angry you view and possibly transfer that anger towards others around you or the rest of the world.Now you get the gist of how the emotional spin cycle works.When youíve had several things go wrong in a day you figure nothing you do, no matter how positive it is will bring about a positive change, so I should just be negative.


7)     Lifelong driver education refers to the process of continually educating drivers after they get their license to maintain a supportive unbiased driver.†† Road Rage and Aggressive Driving explains several ways driverís can continually stay educated.The self witnessing methodology and learning emotional intelligence techniques are a good way to keep you constantly educated on a daily driving bases.Occasionally designating a driving buddy who can provide constructive criticism is a good way to notice the things that you might not see as a problem.Many times we tend to miss bad habits we do because they are habits.Itís easy to get caught up in bad habits the hard part is noticing these habits and a driving buddy is guaranteed to point out what you miss.


Participating in quality driving circles and adopting supportive driving styles and promoting new roles for the next generation will also help.††††


8)     A Quality-driving circle according to Kunichika, Kimberlee consists of a small group of drivers who meet regularly to encourage one another to be supportive drivers.Road Rage and Aggressive Driving explains that group members are encouraged to keep a driving journal and perform the AWM procedure every time they drive.The group also sets up several different scenarios in which one must learn to multitask (talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking, changing a CD, and so forth) while driving.Members are also taught ways to increase their emotional intelligence through various driving scenarios.Understanding of road rage is also taught to members so they are aware of it.Finally members must keep up with new driving manuals and automotive info that the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other automotive safety divisions put out.

9) Supportive Driving is an accommodating style of driving that is not controlled by biased thoughts or feelings.Supportive driving also decreases road rage and aggressive driving by increasing emotional intelligence.Being a supportive driver is a lot more physically healthy than being an aggressive driver.It reduces stress, boosts your immune system, and lifts your spirits, which makes you an enjoyable person inside and out.Itís common sense that being happy is more enjoyable than being angry.In this age of rage people get angry over the smallest things, probably because no one wants to look weak and seem like theyíve been taken advantage of.Itís time to switch the train of thought to from aggressive to supportive and everybody will be a little less stressed in life and a lot happier.††


4. Autobiography


††††††††††† My father was the only parental influence I had on my driving development, because my mom doesnít drive.She says, ďI use to drive but the roads have gotten to dangerous to drive on,Ē so now she refuses to drive.Throughout my childhood I remember my dad being somewhat of an aggressive driver.There were instances where I could see a mild flare up of road rage, such as yelling obscenities and sticking the finger at an individual.My dad never really liked to back down from another driver always stood his ground.The media played a small role in my life.Iíve watched movies and TV shows that have shown car chases at high speeds with weaving in and out of lanes, but I am not an easily influenced individual when it comes to media exposure.I know real life from TV shows and movies, many people on the other hand believe they can turn what the media shows them into real life.After the release of the movie ďThe Fast and the Furious,Ē street racing became an epidemic.†††††


Friends have had some effect on the way I drive.After all a group of friends have many similarities and that is why they are all friends.I could say that when I was younger and immature I was heavily influenced by the way my friends perceived my driving skills.Comments on driving slow, not being aggressive enough, or just being to laid back when driving, would affect the way I drove.Now in my 23rd year of life, my friendís remarks and comments donít have an affect because I have gained that all-important aspect of individuality. My current driving style is overall pretty relaxed, but as you know everyone has his or her pet peeves when driving.I get annoyed with drivers that drive at a snails pace.I also hate when you are waiting at an intersection and you donít cross it because you donít want to block traffic if the light changes, but the driver in the lane next to you pulls out ahead of you to get right in back of the car that is ahead of you, now I canít go because of this jerk.


I also canít stand tailgaters, this annoys me and I start to drive even slower so they get the hint that they arenít going to get anywhere following me that close.If you know me then you know that I am a relaxed person and for the most part this carries over to the way I drive.I would have to say that out of parental, media, and friendship influence on my driving habits, the most influential is my father.Like father like son is exactly how one can describe my driving behaviors and habits.My emotional intelligence could be improved and my driverís threefold self can be more positive.


5. Conclusion


††††††††††† This assignment has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to work on getting rid of my bad driving habits.Driving psychology makes me realize that I have bad habits and it also shows me how these habits formed.I can trace my driving style back to my father.The driverís threefold self shows me if Iím an aggressive or supportive driver.Emotional intelligence points out how to reassess irrational thoughts from an angered situation to rational thoughts by way of empathy and forgiveness.Driving has a lot to do with oneís personality and examining my affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor levels leads me to understand what I need to work on to be a supportive driver.This course is important for driverís to take; it helps one understand what kind of driver they are and what they need to do to correct their bad habits.If everyone knew about driving psychology the roads and highways would be a lot safer.


††††††††††† Before I took this course I didnít have the slightest idea that I was doing something wrong when I was driving.Of course hindsight is 20/20 because now that I have a different perspective and a profound understanding of driving through this course I can see what is wrong with my driving.I never thought that people who drive like maniacs might have a legitimate reason to be driving that way.I always thought in a biased fashion, thinking their just jerks trying to piss people off.Now that Iím more educated on the subject of driving I can take this knowledge and implement it on the roads where it belongs.Iím going to take as much as I can from this class and educate my friends, family, co-workers, relatives, and many more people because it will help driving in our society.


6. Future Generations


I donít really have to say too much about this course because it is an interesting subject and if you drive you can relate to this course.Numerous subjects of driving psychology have been covered but it doesnít mean you canít add on or even come up with a different interpretation of an aspect of driving.Iím sure there are still other subjects that relate to driving that havenít been covered yet.I myself have always thought that people donít want to seem weak and they donít but people forget to see the difference between being respectful and looking weak.I canít let this person into my lane because if I do Iíll look weak to those around me and more people will try to take advantage of me.Donít let anyone drive all over you but at the same time remember that everything you think is not necessarily true especially when itís a biased thought.People think with a biased perception because pride and strength are huge factors in Americaís society.


Biased thoughts are not as simple as Iím explaining it.Any number of factors can drive this train of thought.Perhaps economic status, race, physical appearance, and so on.Perhaps you donít like people who drive BMWís because you think they are nothing but big show offs.You will automatically be rude to anyone that drives a BMW.What Iím trying to point out is driving psychology is more than just changing your driving behaviors, because driving is just one aspect of dealing with society. Once you improve your emotional intelligence it works with more than just driving it works with all types of societal interaction.This is what youíre going to get out of taking this course.†††




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