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LSE and Goodyear research identifies seven driving personalities

The findings form part of an ongoing study on the social psychology of road safety conducted jointly by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and tyre manufacturer Goodyear, which say that these ‘driving personalities’ emerge in different situations when drivers interact with others on the road:

  1. The Teacher: needs to make sure other drivers know what they have done wrong and expects recognition of his/her efforts to teach others.
  2. The Know-it-all: thinks he/she is surrounded by incompetent fools and contents themselves with shouting condescendingly at other drivers while being protected in their own car.
  3. The Competitor: needs to get ahead of all other drivers and is annoyed when someone gets in the way of that. He/she might accelerate when someone tries to overtake them or close a gap to prevent anyone from getting in front of them.
  4. The Punisher: wants to punish other drivers for any perceived misbehaviour. Might end up getting out of his/her car or approaching other drivers directly.
  5. The Philosopher: accepts misbehaviour easily and tries to rationally explain it. Manages to control his/her feelings in the car.
  6. The Avoider: treats misbehaving other drivers impersonally, dismisses them as a hazard.
  7. The Escapee: listens to music or talks on the phone to insulate him/herself. Escapees distract themselves with selected social relationships so that they do not have to relate to any of the other drivers on the road. It’s also a strategy for not getting frustrated in the first place.

Dr Chris Tennant, social psychologist, who is leading the research project at LSE, said: “From a psychological point of view, these different types of personalities represent different outlets that drivers use to deal with their frustrations and strong feelings. We are not always entirely one or the other. Depending on the situation and the interaction with others, most of us will find several of these profiles emerge.”

The personality types emerged out of the first part of the joint research project, based on focus groups and in-depth interviews. With the research, LSE and Goodyear are seeking to identify how drivers influence each other’s behaviour on the road.

Olivier Rousseau, Goodyear vice president consumer tires in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Understanding what type of behaviour we exhibit and what situations provoke it is a first step for all of us to better control it, thereby creating a safer driving environment for ourselves and others on the road. Besides effective enforcement of laws against aggressive driving; education and life-long learning remain the most powerful public strategies to address this social and emotional aspect of driving and to achieve the greatest improvements in road safety.”

The second part of the project is a pan-European study across 15 countries. The final results and analysis of the European-wide study are expected in October.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.