Cognitive biases in aggressive drivers: Does illusion of control drive us off the road?

Amanda Stephens, Keis Ohtsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Anger has been shown to be a motivating factor in aggression and it is widely accepted that driving anger may lead to aggressive driving. However, the link between anger and aggressive driving is likely to be mediated by drivers' pre-existing cognitive biases and the subsequent situational evaluations made. This study investigated the extent to which optimism bias, illusion of control beliefs and driver anger predict self-reported hostile driving behaviours. A total of 220 licensed drivers (106 men; 114 women) completed a self-report questionnaire measuring trait driving anger, optimism bias, illusion of control and driving behaviour. Structural Equation Modelling showed that trait driving anger and illusion of control beliefs account for 37% of the variance in hostile driving behaviour scores. Optimism biases were unrelated to hostile driving behaviours. Thus, driving anger propensities and feelings of control over the situation, but not a general tendency to underestimate the likelihood of adverse outcomes, predict aggressive driving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-129
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggressive driving
  • Cognitive bias
  • Driving anger
  • Illusion of control
  • Optimism bias

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