People who view their car as an extension of themselves have stronger aggressive driving tendencies and are more likely to break the law on the road, a new study has revealed.
The study conducted by a Temple University Fox School of Business professor is thought to be the first to comprehensively examine how personality, attitude and values contribute to aggressive driving behaviours.
Driving is one of the most common consumptive behaviours, and aggressive driving causes a third of all accidents that involve personal injuries.
“It explains much of the phenomenon we knew existed. For instance, we know men tend to be more aggressive drivers and we know men tend to see their cars as an extension of themselves more than women,” said Ayalla Ruvio, lead author and an assistant professor of marketing.
Ruvio took a consumer behaviour perspective of this phenomenon and analysed two studies conducted in Israel.
One took a holistic look at the influence of personality, attitudes and values gathered from 134 surveys of men and women with an average age of 23.5.
The second study, of 298 people, built from the first and added the factors of risk attraction, impulsivity, driving as a hedonistic activity and perceptions about time pressures.
The studies found that people who perceive their car as a reflection of their self-identity are more likely to behave aggressively on the road and break the law.
It revealed that people with compulsive tendencies are more likely to drive aggressively with disregard for potential consequences.
Increased materialism, or the importance of one’s possessions, is also linked to increased aggressive driving tendencies.
The researchers explained that young people who are in the early stages of forming their self-identity might feel the need to show off their car and driving skills more than others.
They may also be overconfident and underestimate the risks involved in reckless driving.
Those who admit to aggressive driving also admit to engaging in more incidents of breaking the law.
Also a sense of being under time and pressure leads to more aggressive driving.
The study findings “suggest that the perception of the car as an extension of the self leads to more aggressive behaviour on the road rather than increased driving cautiousness,” the authors said.
This is because, the authors said, “individuals may view cars and the road space they occupy as their territory and will seek to maintain control over it and defend it as necessary.”
The findings were published online in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing.