Situational specificity of trait influences on drivers' evaluations and driving behaviour

Amanda N. Stephens, John A. Groeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored the influence of anger and anxiety traits on driver evaluations and behaviour during a simulated drive. Forty-eight licensed drivers completed identical simulated driving tasks during which they rated levels of current anger, calmness and frustration or levels of danger, calmness and difficulty. Anxiety-prone drivers made higher difficultly evaluations and generally drove more cautiously. Anger-prone drivers gave higher ratings of anger and frustration, but their evaluations and anger tendencies were unrelated to their general driving behaviours. When driving behaviours in high and low anger-provoking situations were contrasted, in low anger-provoking situations, drivers higher in trait anger reported more anger and frustration and also drove faster and with more sideward movement. When driving situations were considered separately, although not overall, behaviour and evaluations were related: when forced to move sideward, drivers reported more frustration; when forced to drive more slowly, they reported more anger, and subsequently increased acceleration, throttle pressure and steering wheel use. These relationships were not moderated by trait anger. Irrespective of trait anger, drivers become angry when impeded, or in other anger-provoking situations, only drivers with high trait anger become angry and behaved aggressively in circumstances most would not consider provocative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Calmness
  • Danger
  • Difficulty
  • Driver behaviour
  • Frustration
  • Trait anxiety
  • Trait driving anger

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