A study on adolescent drivers by researchers from the Griffith Health Institute’s (GHI) Behavioural Basis of Health research program has found impulsive young male drivers are far more influenced by anger than impulsive young women.

The program, run by Dr Trevor Hine, honours student Bonnie Ingram and Associate Professor Ian Glendon, tested 52 people in a driving simulator to discern people’s responses to programmed scenarios.

Driving gnger affects men and women differently

How anger affected the driving of young men and women was distinct and provides researchers with further fuel to examine this relationship.

“The impulsive young women drove carelessly and took unnecessary risks, but anger didn’t change their driving much at all,” said Dr Hine.

“Impulsive young men on the other hand were quite reasonable when driving in normal, calm conditions, but the moment they became irritated by the provocative behaviour of a nearby driver, they began taking more risks.”

Two lane charge

This was magnified by a particular task, which involved two cars merging into a single lane after a set of lights. At some point the driver has must choose to slow and give way to the car next to them, or try and race them.

“The differences in the merging scenario were polarised, the young men just could not bring themselves to be less aggressive. As their anger surged the erratic nature of their risk-taking increased.

“It was the one scenario where a real gulf existed between the two groups, the young men’s anger was clearly motivational in nature,” said Dr Hine.

The study groups completed an impulsivity questionnaire and a driving behaviour survey before being put through a number immersive driving simulations which created cool (neutral) or hot (frustrating) scenarios.