Women drivers

‘nastier' than men

Angry woman driver, road rage

WOMEN drivers are the most likely to get angry behind the wheel while men feel more at home in cars and just want to chat, according to new research by psychologists.

A study, carried out on behalf of Hyundai, has revealed that women are 12 per cent more likely to get into a rage while out on the road.

Researchers from Goldsmiths University London found that driving sparked ancient 'defence' instincts from when humans were hunter-gatherers.

These evolutionary traits kicked in when women were either undertaken, shouted or beeped at or had to deal with a back-seat driver.

Some 14 per cent of women who took part in the tests were angrier than men in such situations and 13 per cent more women showed anger when faced with a road user who failed to indicate.

In each of the test scenarios women were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers.

Men on the other hand said they find it easier to hold a conversation while driving with almost a third saying they would chat freely while on the move.

The experiment, conducted by Patrick Fagan, behavioural psychologist at Goldsmiths University, ‘sense tested' 1,000 UK drivers to see how hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste provoke emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

The study found there are two dominant emotions: happiness - intrinsically linked to a sense of freedom when driving, and anger when drivers feel out of control.

Other key findings revealed that the primary reason for our like of driving was the freedom it gave us (51%), mobility (19%) and independence (10%).

More than half (54%) said that singing in the car made them happy and 80% always listened to something while driving, with Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody top of the driving charts.

Pop (70%) and rock (61%) were the most popular genres.

Mr Fagan said: "Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism.

"Evolutionary theory suggests our early female ancestors had to develop an acute sense of danger for anything that threatened them and their young if their cave was undefended while men were out hunting. That ‘early warning system' instinct is still relevant today, and women drivers tend to be more sensitive to negative stimuli, so get somewhat angrier and frustrated quicker."

Explaining the reaction of men to conversation in the car Mr Fagan added: "Men have high spatial intelligence and are sensitive to their immediate environment, so are far more comfortable in the controlled ‘cockpit' of their car. Think about that if you want to get a man to open up."

Hyundai and Mr Fagan are now using data from the research and cutting edge technology to create the world first Driving Emotion Test (DET) which involves facial coding technology, eye tracking analysis, galvanic skin response and a heart rate monitor to record how specific stimuli impact our emotions when we're driving.

The results are then fed into specially-created software to provide subjects with a unique DET score which reveals the hidden side of their driving behaviour.

An online version of the test has been posted on the houseofhyundai.com website.

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