Do emotional appraisals of traffic situations influence driver behaviour?

Amanda Stephens, John A Groeger

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Although it is widely assumed that the emotions experienced while driving influence driving behaviour, there are few empirical studies which support this supposition. This study explored the relationship between emotional appraisals of anger, calmness and frustration and driver behaviour in a simulated driving task. Few relationships emerged between trait measures of anger and anxiety and driving behaviour in the simulator. However, several findings showed that situational fluctuations in emotion were associated with driving behaviours. Among these, the related findings that drivers when angry drove at faster speeds, and those drivers experiencing higher levels of anger and frustration made more extreme use of the accelerator and brake pedals than those same drivers did in circumstances where they reported more calmness. While a relationship is apparent between state emotion appraisals and car control, it remains unclear to what extent these changed behaviours pose, or are intended to pose, a danger to the driver or to other road users.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDepartment for Transport
Subtitle of host publicationBehavioural Research in Road Safety 2006 Sixteenth Seminar
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Trait anger

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