Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bumper Stickers and Road Rage?

A recent Colorado State University study led social psychologist William Szlemko to conclude that the drivers of cars with bumper stickers, regardless of their content, are more likely to express road rage.

Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post: "It does not seem to matter whether the messages on the stickers are about peace and love -- "Visualize World Peace," "My Kid Is an Honor Student" -- or angry and in your face -- "Don't Mess With Texas," "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student." . . . Aggressive driving might be responsible for up to two-thirds of all U.S. traffic accidents that involve injuries.
So it seems that bumper sticker users might be responsible for these tragedies. Why? Bumper stickers are actually animal-like "territorial markers".
"The more markers a car has, the more aggressively the person tends to drive when provoked," Szlemko said. "Just the presence of territory markers predicts the tendency to be an aggressive driver."
These drivers, according to Szlemko,
"not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage -- by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior."
Yikes. I wonder what "other aggressive behavior" this study turned up?

In other news, Barak Obama met recently in Chicago with some "heavy hitters" from Evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant worlds. Evidently it went well, because:
A smaller group even walked back to the candidate's headquarters in downtown Chicago to tour the office and pick up some bumper stickers. . .

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