Cars are an important part of American life. Besides providing luxury, cars take an individual to work and are thus essential in earning livelihood. Additionally cars serve as symbols of status, freedom and identity. It is not surprising then, that cars and aggression often seem to go hand in hand.

Violent incidents can frequently be seen on the interstate. An article recently published in Science Digest gives various examples of violent outbursts associated with car driving. A dangerous chain of events erupts when one car cuts off another on freeway. An impatient drivers honking of horn generally evokes bitter response from the driver toward whom the honking is supposed to have been directed. Similarly, we frequently hear news involving a driver shooting and killing another one who had committed a very minor driving error on a street corner.

Study of such incidents raises the question about whether incidents produce aggression and violence or vice versa?

Various studies published till now confirm that a person who uses his car as an instrument of aggression is probably aggressive and immature in other areas of life also. His temper control is very poor. Such persons have a very poor selfbody image and a Satnam Singh Atwal little blow to their selfesteem generally produces a violent exchange of words and frequently violence itself.

  1. Powell Huesmann and Leonard Eron from University of Illinois, Chicago, followed 630 people for 22 years beginning at age 8. They concluded that those children who were more aggressive when they were young maintained their aggressive behavior when they grew into full adults. Their aggressiveness could be measured in such areas as selfreported aggression, spouse abuse and moving traffic violations. “Aggressive behaviour seems to establish itself in early years of life and does not change much thereafter,’ says Huesmann.

Aggressive personality is proved to provoke more aggression while driving cars. But it is not always aggressive personality which invites aggression. Anyone who has been stuck in rush hour traffic knows that driving in fact does provide special occasion for almost anyone to lose control on temper and be restless and abusive in the form of yelling and shouting. “It is true that when you are ina hurry or late for a special appointment, you don’t think rationally and clearly,” says Rick Jacob, Pennsylvania State University psychologist. Somehow cars and aggression have some relationship.

Article extracted from this publication >>  August 23, 1985