A large number of traffic accidents that took place in August in Latvia makes one wonder about possible correlation between drivers’ behaviour and the possibility of accidents. Research jointly organized by London School of Economics and Political Science and Goodyear tire manufacturer to look into social psychology on the road has provided multiple types of reactions exhibited by drivers and how they can affect the level of safety on roads.
Using a focus group and in-depth interviews with European drivers, researchers were able to identify seven major personality types:
The Teacher: wants to make sure other drivers know what they did wrong and expects recognition of his work in educating others;
The Know-it-all: thinks he is surrounded by fools. Often yells and insults other drivers from the comfort and safety of his vehicle;
The Competitor: wants to be ahead of everyone else and is offended whenever someone else prevents him from accomplishing this. Will increase driving speed if he wants to outrun someone else and will reduce distance from the vehicle in front to prevent others from getting ahead of him;
The Punisher: wants to punish other drivers for any noticed mistake. Can exit his car to oppose other drivers;
The Philosopher: easily accepts mistakes and tries his best to rationally explain them. Can control his feelings in the car;
The Avoider: does not see misbehaving as a threat. Is indifferent to behaviour of other drivers;
The Escapist: listens to music or speaks on a phone to isolate himself. Escapists divert their attention from other driver. This strategy can help avoid disappointment and stress.
These different personality types were uncovered in situations whenever drivers interact with each other on the road.
«Much of the time we can sit happily in the comfortable bubble of our car, but around any corner we may have to interact with other drivers. This makes the road a challenging and uncertain social environment. While we may worry about others’ driving, this research suggests that their behaviour also depends on what we do. We create the personalities that we don’t like. From a psychological point of view, these different types of personalities represent different outlets that drivers use to deal with their frustrations and strong feelings. We are not always entirely one or the other. Depending on the situation and the interaction with others, most of us will find several of these profiles emerge,» – said Dr. Chris Tennant, a social psychologist that is leading the research at LSE.