Aggressive Drivers May Be Angrier Overall

Nutrition Health Review, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview
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Aggressive Drivers May Be Angrier Overall


Their muscles tighten; their blood pressure rises; they are ready to hit the road. According to a new study, self-described aggressive drivers have a more pronounced physiological response to certain driving scenarios than their calm-headed peers.

"Aggressive drivers appear to be not only more aggressive and angrier on the road, but also angrier in general," Loretta S. Malta, of the University of Albany, said. Their bodies seem to be more reactive, as measured by facial muscle tension and blood pressure during three different stress narratives and a mental arithmetic task.

"The combined increases in muscle tension and blood pressure observed during all four stressors suggest that the aggressive drivers may have a tendency to respond to emotionally evocative or challenging situations with hostile and/or defensive behaviors," she said.

In the study, which included 14 aggressive drivers and 14 calm drivers, the researchers suggest that these drivers may benefit from learning relaxation techniques, possibly including muscle relaxation.

Aggressive driving was defined as "antagonistic behavior directed towards another driver," such as tailgating, cutting other cars off, and frequent, excessive speeding.

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