“Teaching them a lesson?” : a qualitative exploration of underlying motivations for driver aggression

Lennon, Alexia & Watson, Barry (2011) “Teaching them a lesson?” : a qualitative exploration of underlying motivations for driver aggression. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43(6), pp. 2200-2208.

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Aggressive driving is increasingly a concern for drivers in highly motorised countries. However, the role of driver intent in this behaviour is problematic and there is little research on driver cognitions in relation to aggressive driving incidents. In addition, while drivers who admit to behaving aggressively on the road also frequently report being recipients of similar behaviours, little is known about the relationship between perpetration and victimisation or about how road incidents escalate into the more serious events that feature in capture media attention. The current study used qualitative interviews to explore driver cognitions and underlying motivations for aggressive behaviours on the road. A total of 30 drivers aged 18-49 years were interviewed about their experiences with aggressive driving. A key theme identified in responses was driver aggression as an attempt to manage or modify the behaviour of other road users. Two subthemes were identified and appeared related to separate motivations for aggressive responses: ‘teaching them a lesson’ referred to situations where respondents intended to convey criticism or disapproval, usually of unintended behaviours by the other driver, and thus encourage self-correction; and ‘justified retaliation’ which referred to situations where respondents perceived deliberate intent on the part of the other driver and responded aggressively in return. Mildly aggressive driver behaviour appears to be common. Moreover such behaviour has a sufficiently negative impact on other drivers that it may be worth addressing because of its potential for triggering retaliation in kind or escalation of aggression, thus compromising safety.

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20 citations in Scopus
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17 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 43606
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: aggressive driving, interviews, psychological motivation, qualitative research
DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2011.06.015
ISSN: 0001-4575
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > TRANSPORTATION AND FREIGHT SERVICES (150700) > Road Transportation and Freight Services (150703)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Copyright Statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Accident Analysis & Prevention. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 43, Issue 6, (November 2011). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2011.06.015
Deposited On: 27 Jul 2011 06:51
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013 15:46

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