Data Project Report: Self-Witnessing of Driving

Part III

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there), (6) Improving and forming deeper relationships with spouse, family and children, and (7) More competent drivers who don't take as many risks and avoid accidents.

After analyzing the data transcripts and looking at myself as a person, my habits, motives and morality, I found that I began taking more responsibility and cared more about upsetting other drivers. Although I went over the speed limit on several occasions, I was also motivated by fear of getting caught and punished with a speeding ticket.

Implications for Self-Modification Plans
As Dr. James discussed in lecture, if people were taught to be proud of being a competent and safe driver, rather than to be proud of the status and symbol of the car itself, we would have more drivers that think first about safety. More drivers, including myself need a plan that goes into deeper levels of the self - on how to achieve greater awareness, take responsibility for our own emotions and creating a safe environment, and how to treat other drivers, passengers and pedestrians with respect.

Dr. James proposed a way to overcome the addition of speeding, which can also be applied to changing other driving behaviors. His three-way approach consists of: (1) Reconditioning your sensorimotor reactions, particularly the muscles, (2) Cognitive Re-education or re-educating the mind to convince the self why speeding is bad, and (3) Affective Education involving attitudes, responsibilities, ethics and morality.

Watson and Tharp in their book Self-Directed Behavior: Self-Modification for Personal Adjustment, suggested that successful self-modification always contains certain essential elements: self-knowledge, planning, information gathering, and modification of plans in the light of new information. There is a definite sequence in deliberate self-modification which involve these following steps:

(1) Selecting a goal and specifying the behaviors you need to change in order to reach the goal. These behaviors are called target behaviors.

(2) Make observations about the target behaviors, using a diary describing those behaviors or counting how often you engage in them. Trying to discover the events that stimulate your acts and the things that reward them.

(3) Work out a plan for change, applying basic psychological knowledge. Your plan might call for changing a pattern of thought that leads to unwanted behavior. You might gradually replace an unwanted behavior with a desirable one. You might also reward yourself for a desired action.

(4) Readjust you plans as you learn more about yourself. As you practice analyzing your behavior, you will be able to make more sophisticate and effective plans for change.

(5) Take steps to ensure that you will maintain the goals you make.

Implications for Society
Benefit or cost to society, share/responsible for each other/society. The increasing congestion on our roads, has resulted in a degree of uncertainty and danger in life. The psychological costs of aggression and unhealthy thinking towards others drivers has been brought on by stress, pressure and an increasingly hostile environment. According to Dr. James (1994), this all "contributes to a national and cultural dehumanization, where we are becoming more cruel to each other."

Looking at the big picture, in order to make our roads a safer place and to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities every year, we need to start from the inside out, with behavioral improvements.

While doing this project, I felt that I have looked inward as well as outward, trying to understand the role, the importance and the result of my feelings, thoughts and actions and how they affect my life and the lives of those around me. I feel that I have improved and grown in my driving through self-improvements and self-modifications, and have gained a better awareness and understanding of myself. By shedding old attitudes, that lead to unsafe driving, and adopting new ones, we can slowly bring about change on our roads and make them a more pleasant and safer place


Ericsson, K.A., & Simon, H.A. (1993). Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Watson, D.L. & Tharp, R.G. (1993). Self-Directed Behavior: Self-Modification for Personal Adjustment. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.

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