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Angry Woman at the wheel

New research from Hyundai Motor UK has discovered women drivers are angrier than men when they are behind the wheel of a car.

The recent study of 1,000 UK drivers reveals women are, on average, 12% angrier when faced with such daily occurrences such as being undertaken, shouted or being beeped at, back-seat drivers, and road users who failed to indicate.

Testing stress levels on a female driver in test situationIn fact, according to Patrick Fagan, behavioural psychologist from Goldsmiths University in London, who undertook the experiment, in all test scenarios, women were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers.

The method of testing responses was unusual, to say the least, in that the 1,000 drivers were ‘sense tested’ to see how sound, sight, smell, touch and taste provoked emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

With two main dominant emotions leading the way in the way we drive (not surprisingly, these were happiness and anger), the research brought out some interesting facts and opinions.

  • It seems that the main reason we drive is for the freedom it gives us, with 51% of the drivers relating to this, with mobility and independence bringing up the rear.
  • It also seems that men will open up about things in a car, so if you want a man to talk, take him for a drive. Just under a third (29%) of men said they find it easier to have a conversation in the car, with 14% of male drivers also suggesting that being able to talk while at the wheel made them a better driver.
  • When it comes to looking at what it is about driving that makes drivers happy, 84% of people said “empty roads”, 78% said “the countryside” and 69% “the seaside. 
  • And another thing that makes people happy in the car was music, with Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody top of the driving charts, as 80% of drivers like to drive with music -even if it is their own voice! The rise in popularity of Carpool Karaoke may explain why 54% of Brits said the thing that made them really happy in the car was singing, with pop (70%) and Rock (61%) the genres of choice.

Testing responses in stressful sitiationsHyundai and Mr. Fagan used data from the research and cutting-edge technology to create the world first Driving Emotion Test (DET), which used facial coding technology, eye tracking analysis, galvanic skin response and a heartrate monitor to record how specific stimuli impacted on emotions when driving, with the results then fed into specially-created software to provide subjects with a unique DET score. 

Explaining the results, and harking back to prehistoric times, Patrick Fagan commented: "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 angry and frustrated quicker."

So, it's all the fault of the cavemen and cavewomen then? I will try and explain that to my mother-in-law next time she screams at another motorist when I am in the car.