Data Project Report: Self-Witnessing of Driving

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I. The Application of the Cognitive Behavioral Theory and Driving

Today the cognitive behavioral approach has become increasingly popular as a form of therapy for many individuals (Phares, pg. 252). The main idea of the cognitive behavioral perspective is that an individual's cognition and thought plays a vital role in that person's behavior. The cognitive behavioral theory can be applied to traffic in terms of rationalizing and understanding one's driving behavior.

First, several methods can be used to discover a driver's cognition. In 1976, Schwartz and Gottman developed a 34-item questionnaire called the Assertiveness Self-Statement Test (ASST). Through the use of the ASST, people could become more aware of and understand why they might drive the way they do. For example, a positive self-statement of the ASST could be: "I was thinking that I am perfectly free to drive the appropriate speed that is safe for me and others around me; I was thinking that other drivers were going way to fast for me to keep up with them."

A negative self-statement would be: "I was worried about what the other drivers behind me would think of me if I did not keep up with the faster drivers up ahead; I was thinking that the other drivers might feel that I was in their way." With more similar statements as the two mentioned, it can become clearer about why drivers may behave the way they do.

Those who fall under the positive self-statement would be regarded as having a high degree of assertiveness. Assertive drivers are therefore drivers who have a sense of identity and who do not follow the convoys of other drivers. For instance, an assertive driver would remain at the speed limit that is appropriate and safe under the weather, road, and traffic conditions present at that time. On the other hand, drivers who fall under the negative self-statement are drivers who are simply followers who do not have enough strength to do what's right.

Cognitive behavioral therapy could be a positive method of reforming reckless drivers. Therapists might be able to help a reckless driver become a careful driver by teaching them to label situations more realistically. By labeling situations more realistically, drivers may realize the danger they are creating for themselves and for those around them.

In order for drivers to come to this realization, therapists might strike up an argument in attempt to get the driver to see the irrationality of his or her beliefs. Furthermore, drivers may be taught to stop and ask themselves why and what is causing the aggression and anger and if it is really worth the anxiety that's involved.

In addition to the cognitive aspect, drivers should be taught to find an alternative means of reacting to their anger that is more rational and less stressful to the driver. For example, instead of driving reckless to relieve the tension (which for me, would make me go more crazy) maybe they can stick in a favorite (CD or tape to calm their nerves.

In extreme cases, maybe the driver should even pull over on the side to overcome their anger and proceed traffic when they are certain they are ready. Therefore, the goal of a cognitive behavioral therapist in terms of of driving is to make drivers be able to confront their unreasonable thinking and to use common sense as to how to react in their situation.

Phares, Jerry. Clinical Psychology: Fourth edition; Concepts, Methods, and profession. pages 252, 371,372, 373. 1992. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Inc.

III. The Evolution of Applying the Concept of the Cognitive Behavioral Theory to Driving

I derived my topic through looking at several of my psychology texts. I decided to go with the cognitive behavioral approach because it was a concept I have yet written about. For this lab report, I was interested in relating the concept of thought to performance and behavior. I strongly believe that cognition along with performance is applicable to why drivers drive the way they do. Thus, it is the process of thought that produces one's performance let it be rational or not.

IV. A Useful Application for Reforming Drivers

This report has allowed me to believe that the cognitive behavioral therapy is a useful method of actually reforming a bad driver. I have come realize that if drivers are able to confront and understand their feelings it could result to better driving performance. By realizing what provokes aggression and anger, drivers could either avoid the anger provoking stimulus or to learn to take a different alternative to relieve tension.

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