Research of Driving Anger in Psychology

The current work provides the description of the study dealing with managing anger. The study aims at understanding the causations of anger and the behaviour and actions of individuals who experience this feeling. Three hypotheses were formed for checking. Hypothesis 1 assumes that driving anger is formed under the influence of several factors, one of which is the behaviour of other people. Hypothesis 2 predicts the high frequency of driving anger. Hypothesis 3 states that driving anger is connected to the aggression reflected in one or several responses. The study is formed on the background of numerous researches of managing anger, which investigate the causes and consequences of the given issue.

Moreover, these works evidence that the discussed topic is rather relevant in the UAE, due to the fact that traffic incidents are considered to be the second cause of death in the country. The study was conducted with the use of a special questionnaire. The majority of findings align with the findings presented in the sources which were used for the preparation of the current work. All the hypotheses were supported. The further recommendations concern the studying of internal factors, which may form the driving anger and the ways of mitigating the given issue.

The major topic of the presented study will be the driving anger. It was chosen as it represents the considerable issue in regard to the influence it has on the aggression on roads and traffic incidents. The understanding of driving anger, its causes and consequences would help mitigate and find the solution for the problem.

The additional attention should be paid to the fact that this topic is relevant for the social environment of the United Arab Emirates, because traffic incidents are considered to be the second major cause of death in the country. Thus, studying the formation and reflection of driving anger is aimed at understanding the behaviours and actions of individuals who experience the given feeling.

Hypothesis of the Study

The current research paper would provide testing of various hypotheses, which refer to the topic of driver anger. The first hypothesis assumes that anger is caused by the combination of several factors, one of which is the behaviour of other drivers. The second hypothesis predicts that the frequency of occurrence of driving anger is comparatively high. It is based on the understanding that people are obliged to deal with factors, which cause the occurrence of anger every day. The last hypothesis that would be tested in the current work is that driving anger is connected to the aggression that is reflected in one or several responses. All the mentioned hypotheses were formed on the background of the information from numerous relevant sources discussed below.

Review of Literature

The current research paper will study the driving anger in the UAE. This topic was chosen as it is directly connected with the traffic issues and death. This assumption is supported by the information published in the article Anger on the road (2022). The research revealed that angry drivers have more judgmental and disbelieving attitude to other road drivers. Sometimes, they reflect their feelings in one or several responses. The author of this research noted that such drivers tend to create risky situations on the road by changing their speed, switching lanes, and “tailgate and enter an intersection when a light turns red” (Dittmann, 2022). Melissa Dittmann (2022) also noted the connection between the extent of anger and the aggressive driving behaviours. As per information presented in this source, heavy-anger drivers react faster and show more dangerous driving behaviours than low anger drivers. Thus, the driving of high anger drivers causes incidents more frequently than compared to low-angry drivers. Such people ‘tend to express anger in more outward and less controlled ways as well as react impulsively’ (Dittmann, 2022). Regardless of the fact that the current source does not study the causations of the driving anger, it provides the relevant interconnection between the traffic issues and driving anger.

The second source that would be presented in the current work is the research of driving behaviours and traffic issues in the UAE (Yougov, 2021). It was performed by the official agency YouGov in 2014 (Yougov, 2021). The given research showed that 66.6 % of respondents “always focused behind the wheel” (Yougov, 2021). The agency studied the various sources of distraction from driving, such as the own behaviour of the driver, behaviour of other individuals inside the vehicle, and external factors. The major sources of destruction from driving were the following: changing the radio station (39.7 %), adjusting the air conditioning (33.8 %), passenger speaking to the driver (69.8 %), and behaviour of other drivers (58.8 %) (Yougov, 2014). The major strength of the current research is that it assesses the influence of both external and internal factors on driving behaviours and identifies the matters which help the drivers concentrate (being alone (51.4 %), listening to the radio (33.1 %), controlling the speed limits (29.6 %), and presence of speed cameras (28.9 %)) (Yougov, 2014). As per drivers’ opinions, the major causes of road incidents are the following: too fast driving (68.1 %), driving too close to vehicles in front (55.7 %), and distraction (46.77 %) (Yougov, 2014). The current work studied the major sources of traffic issues on the road and noted that anger plays the considerable role in causation of incidents.

One more source that evidences the great relevance of the research of driving anger in the United Arab Emirates is the article Driving statistics – challenge to change (2020). These authors noted that traffic accidents is the second major cause of death in this country (Surya Foundation, 2020). The UAE “has an appalling record …32 death per 100,000” and this figure tends to increase (Surya Foundation, 2010). The source presents the statistical information concerning traffic incidents of the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) (Surya Foundation, 2010). It showed that the major causes of accidents are not leaving enough distance (16.4 %), lack of judgement (14.3 %), sudden change of lane (12.3 %), driving while intoxicated with alcohol (11.8 %), and not keeping in lane (10.7 %). As a result, the current work provides the understanding that the traffic issues are a considerable problem in the UAE as it represents the second causation of death in the country. Moreover, it provides the information concerning the major causes of traffic accidents.

The major source that formed the background of the current work is the article A motivation model of diving anger and aggression (2022). It “proposed a motivational model of driving anger and aggression, derived from self-determination theory, suggesting that trait motivation affects motivation in specific driving situations, which in turn predicts driving anger and subsequent aggression” (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2022). The researchers studied the causations and reflections of driving anger. They provided the detailed research with the broad description of outcomes. The participants with higher control orientation were assumed to experience higher pressure and ego-defensiveness during driving. Thus, it was assumed that their actions were more aggressive and could cause a greater amount of traffic issues. The authors’ assumption was supported by the performed research. It evidenced that “individuals who generally feel controlled tend to experience more pressure and ego-defensiveness, which leads to more anger and aggression while driving” (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2002, p. 324)

The next study that formed the background for the current work was Anger while driving (1999) prepared by Geoffrey Underwood, Peter Chapman, Sharon Wright, and David Crundall. The authors tried to identify the causation factors connected with driving anger and possible consequences of driving behaviour when the drivers feel angry. The drivers’ behaviour was examined during a period of two weeks. The drivers answered special questionnaires concerning traffic incidents and occasions when they experienced anger. Unfortunately, the current article does not contain the examples of the questions. It is notable that drivers reported that they experienced anger during congestion, “but there was no evidence that drivers who generally experienced higher levels of congestion also experienced more anger” (Underwood et al., 2023). The authors also paid much attention to studying drivers’ feelings when they drive near the accidents. They frequently felt anger, “particularly where the driver felt that they were not at fault in the incident” (Underwood et al., 2023). Thus, the current source provides the understanding that the feeling of driving anger is connected to the traffic congestion and may be related with the existence of nearby accidents.

One more research that was used for the development of the current work is Angry drivers: Characteristics and clinical interventions (2022) prepared by Jerry L. Defenbacher. The author stated that high anger drivers experience the great extent of crash-related conditions. Such conditions include triggers, hostile thinking, aggression, frequent and intense anger, risky behaviour, etc. Much attention was paid to the reduction of driving anger through various cognitive-based interventions, such as relaxing, behavioural skill building, and cognitive restructuring. Thus, the current research evidence shows that “high anger drivers…reported more frequent and intense anger, aggression, and risky behaviour than low anger drivers” (Deffenbacher, 2022).

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Handbook of traffic psychology written by Bryan E. Porter in 2011 discusses the negative emotions experienced during driving, which “may alter cognitions of traffic-related stimuli, narrow attentional focus or processing, and modify interpretations of other drivers and their activities” (Porter, 2021). It may lead to the increase in the level of unsafe driving and cause the risk of traffic incident occurrence. The author discusses various emotions, which can have a negative impact on driving. They include anxiety, sadness, and anger. Bryan E. Porter provided the outcomes of special research performed in the UK that showed that 85% of drivers in the country experienced anger at least once during their routine driving within a 2 week examination period (Porter, 2021). The additional attention was paid to the description of a special tool used for the examination of the extent of driving anger, namely the Driving Anger Scale (DAS) (Porter, 2011). During such examination, “participants were asked to rate their likely degree of anger to common anger-provoking situations, leading to an average score believed to differentiate divers on a continuum of trait of driving anger” (Porter, 2021). This source links driving anger with numerous dangerous driving behaviours, including violations, low levels of concentration, insufficient driving control. The book does not provide the clear understanding of the connection between driving anger and aggression. In addition, some of the described researches show that “anger predicts aggression only in hostile situations”, when the other state that “anger predicts reactive forms of aggression” (Porter, 2021). Negative emotions experienced during driving can cause anger, which could be measured by using a special Driving Anger Scale. At the same time, the writer expresses uncertainty whether anger causes driving aggression in all the situations.

The current work is based on the studies of anger of drivers from various regions all over the world. Sharon O’Brien, Richard Tay, and Barry Watson in their work An exploration of Australian anger (2002) investigated the extent and nature of driving anger among the citizens of their country. They built the suggestion that various situation-specific factors result in incidents. Such factors include police presence, cultural differences, density of population, close driving, and dissatisfaction caused by traffic jams. Moreover, the study “suggest that the use of situation-specific scenarios in traffic research may represent a somewhat artificial means of manipulating a frustrating/angering road situation” (O’Brien, Tay, and Watson, 2022). Hence, the researchers expressed assumptions concerning the factors which may cause anger driving and formed the ways of their measurement.

Various anger-provoking situations were also analyzed in the study Driver anger: experienced and expressed (2015) prepared by Sonja Elizabeth Forward. The researcher used various measurement tools, such as Driving Anger Scale, General Age Scale, and Driver behaviour Questionnaire for analysis of drivers’ behaviours. The current work showed that “young divers scored higher on impeding driving, hostile gestures and police presence” than older drivers (Forwards, 2020). Women showed higher prevalence to illegal driving, provocation, and expression of anger. Moreover, the used scales revealed “a significant relationship indicating that own behaviour related to the reaction of others” and the context of the situation (Forwards, 2020). The current paper examines differences between anger formation and expression of men and women and states that it is highly influenced by the actions of other people.

The last source used for preparation of the current work was the article Anger, aggression and risky behaviour: A comparison of high and low anger divers (2023) by Jerry L. Deffenbacher, David M. Deffenbacher, Rebekah S. Lynch, and Tracy L. Richards. The researchers assumed that state-trait anger explained drivers’ behaviour during driving. The studies showed that high anger drivers expressed “more frequent and intense anger and more aggression and risky behaviour, greater anger in frequently occurring situations, more frequent calls and moving violations, and greater use of hostile/aggressive ways of expression anger” than low anger drivers after they drove considerable distances (Deffenbacher et al., 2023). Moreover, in high impedance situations, high anger drivers showed the lowering of distance that causes collision. The current work studied the connection between risk behaviours and the distance of driving and the influence of the impedance of traffic on the formation of driving behaviours that can cause traffic incidents.

All these sources provide the understanding that driving anger represents the considerable issue in the UAE as it is one of the major causes of traffic incidents and deaths in the country. There are numerous internal and external factors which form driving anger, such as behaviour of other drivers, presence of police, traffic jams, etc. In numerous situations, anger leads to the aggression on the road that appears as the hostile attitude, change of lane and speed, etc.

Methodology Used in Conducting the Research

The current work will be based on the research that would consist of several phases. The first phase is represented by the general questionnaire developed for obtaining the basic knowledge about the participants. The second phase will be represented by giving the participants the direct records in the form of questionnaires, which should be completed each time the participant feels anger connected to driving. Such questionnaires would contain both open-ended and closed questions. The last phase will be represented by the completion of special questionnaires that would help analyze the accuracy of responses. The examples of all questionnaires used in all phases would be presented in the appendix.

The research was conducted during 10 days. The research would be conducted by analyzing the answers of 111 undergraduate psychological students on the special questionnaire that relates to the discussed topic. 28 of them would be men and 83 would be women. This sample was chosen due to the fact that these people experience traffic issues during their daily life. They have enough skills and knowledge to provide relevant information and unusual answers on open-ended questions, which would provide the understanding of their thoughts concerning the discussed matters. Moreover, students of the psychological department clearly understand the necessity of conducting various surveys for the clarification of different psychological matters. Thus, the possibility to meet objections is low. Moreover, these people could use the research in their studies.

Both open format and closed format questions will be used in the current research. The open format questions are represented by open-ended questions without any given set of responses, which enable the participants to express their thoughts and opinions in the free-flowing manner without any limitations (Outsource, 2016). Moreover, such questions enable us to obtain insightful and unexpected answers. The extent of driving anger will be measured by the use of Driving Anger Scale that would enable the participants to rate their anger in the common anger-provoking situations. Such a tool was described in the Handbook of traffic psychology (2011). Some of the questions would represent the situation-specific scenarios, which would help determine drivers’ behaviours more accurately (O’Brein, Tay, and Watson, 2022).

The performed research will also contain close format questions. The respondents would be provided with the possibility to choose one of the given answers as the response on question. Such questions would make the analysis easier due to the simplified ability to perform calculations. The close ended questions of several types will be used in the study. Some of them would require to rate the extent of some feelings, such as aggressiveness and danger. The others would provide an ability to choose one of the set answers, including the specific response on the event that made a person angry. Some of the close format questions would provide an ability to answer in the open form, if not all offset answers correspond to the respondent’s views.

Data Collection and Report Writing

As it was mentioned above, a questionnaire with regard to the chosen topic and conduct survey will be presented in the appendix to the current work. The questionnaire that would be filled during the first phase would be used for the determination of the participants’ name and gender.

The second phase would contain questionnaires, which are aimed at measuring a controlled orientation analysis of the respondents’ response on one of several proposed scenarios, in which respondents rate the answers. Some of the questions were developed for measuring the pressure. The participants were asked to what extent they were in rush, in danger of being late for an appointment, feeling pressure and feeling stress before the event that caused their anger. The question that asked to which extent the participant perceived the action that angered him or her and which was directed on the individual personally was developed for the assessment of ego-defensiveness. Moreover, the current research contained two questions concerning driving anger.

The first question analysed the intensity of experienced anger, while the other question was developed for the identification of duration of anger. Additional attention was paid to the measurement of aggressive driving through assessment of subjective aggression and aggressive actions. Some questions asked how respondents’ anger influence driving, while the others asked to rate aggressiveness of the provided response. The objective measurement of aggressions was identified by asking about the specific response. The total aggressive action score was calculated as the sum of answers on all the given questions.

The last phase that was developed for the identification of responses accuracy contains six questions. The questions also determined the number of recorded driving anger events, estimated impact of making the records on driving anger, and difficulty of the given survey performance.


  • The first phase contains the questions concerning respondents’ name and gender.

It should be noted that the respondents were chosen to have a similar gender compared to the number and gender of respondents in the research presented in the article motivation model of driving anger and aggression (2022). It was necessary for providing the relevant comparison of the answers on the other questions concerning driving anger.

  • The second phase starts from the determination of the average number of days when respondents experienced anger.

The number of days when the respondents experienced driving anger. The answers of respondents show that people experience driving anger during almost all the time of the research performance. In general, 63 % of respondents were angry from 7 to 10 days. The given figures correspond to the ones provided in the research article A motivation model of driving anger and aggression (2022), where the authors noted that the average number of experiencing driving anger is 8.45 days. The similar outcomes are provided in the Handbook of traffic psychology (2021). The author states that 85 % of respondents experienced driving anger at least ones during the 2-week study (Porter, 2021)

The majority of respondents experienced anger from 2 to 15 minutes. Thus, this feeling can be considered as short-lasting. According to the relative research, the anger lasted between 2 to 5 minutes (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2022). Thus, the current study and the previously performed research showed almost the same results.
The next items of the research concern the types of events which cause anger of respondents. The additional attention should be paid to the fact that participants were provided an ability to give a clear description of these events in open questions. Moreover, they were enabled to choose several events simultaneously.

Respondents specified that the major factors which caused anger were discourtesy of other drivers (64 %), dangerous driving behavior of others (51 %), and slow traffic as a result of traffic jam (25 %). The aggression was caused by actions and behavior of other road users. In the current work, authors noted that discourteousness of others cause anger in 59.1 %, slow traffic caused by traffic jams acted as the anger-causing event in 43.5 %, and other events acts as causeations of respondents’ anger in 22.2 % (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2002). The obtained outcomes also align with the research Anger on the road (2023) that states that angry drivers tend to provide one or several responses to actions of others. The present research does not support the assumptions made in the work An exploration of Australian anger (2022), where the authors state that such factors as presence of police, density of population, close driving, traffic jams, and cultural differences may have the considerable influence on the formation of anger and aggression among drivers.

The above-mentioned information. It shows that one third of respondents (33 %) mentioned discourtesy of others as the anger-causation event. In the related research, the figure was much higher and reached 58 % (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2002). At the same time, only 24 % of participants noted that dangerous driving caused their anger, when in the research described in A motivation model of driving anger and aggression (2002) the figure was almost two times higher and reached 45 % (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2022). Thus, it is recommended to perform additional studies for clarification of this matter. YouGov who stated that 58.8 % of drivers in the UAE become distracted from driving due to the behavior of other people. At the same time, the outcomes of these studies do not align with the conclusion made in the work Anger while driving (2017) (in which the authors noted congestion as one of the major sources of anger) and the work Driver anger: experienced and expressed (2015), where the behaviour of other drivers was assumed to have the significant influence of anger formation.

The next questions concern the aggressiveness of respondents’ responses to some traffic issues. The additional attention should be paid to the fact that respondents were provided the ability to choose more than one answer and to write their own answers, which may differ from the set ones.

The most common responses were muttering (78 times), yelling (56 times), and name calling (43 times). It is notable that the majority of respondents state that their driving anger results in more than one response. Such outcomes support the research Angry drivers: Characteristics and clinical interventions (2009), which states that driving anger is connected with the great variety of hostile thinking and crash-related conditions. The additional attention should be paid to the fact that 21 respondents refused to provide lane access to other drivers. At the same time, Driving statistics – challenge to change (2020) shows that issues connected with the sudden change of lane represent 12.3 % of causations of accidents on road and not keeping the lane – 10.7 % (Surya Foundation, 2010). Thus, the performed research and the current source may consider anger as the cause of traffic incidents.

Approximately one third of respondents (32 %) were muttering.However, in the research article A motivation model of driving anger and aggression (2002), this figure reached 53.5 %. Additionally, gesturing (19 %), yelling (8 %) and honking (8 %)were among other popular responses. However, the authors of the article stated that others common responses in their investigation included name calling (28.8 %), gesturing (28.1 %), and refusing lane access to other drivers (24 %). (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2022). Thus, the additional investigation should be made for the clarification of this matter. At the same time, the obtained figures did not align with the research performed by Melissa Dittmann (2005), who noted that responses of angry drivers are in the majority of cases reflected in a form of speed changing and shifting from one lane to another.

The majority of respondents followed-up the questionnaire. Thus, their answers are considered to be relevant. The results are fully consistent with the similar survey presented in the article A motivation model of driving anger and aggression (2002). The researchers who performed this survey stated that 85 % also followed-up the questionnaire.

The survey showed that the participants were accurate when they made their records: 19 % rated their accuracy by “4”; 32 % rated their accuracy by “5”; 16 % rated their accuracy by 16 %, and the same number of respondents rated their accuracy as “7”. The participants of research paid much attention to the accuracy of its performance. It may be connected with the fact that they are the students of philosophy who have a clear understanding of the importance of providing various researches and the necessity of precise answering on set questions. The obtained results correspond to the similar research performed by Clayton Neighbors, Nathaniel A.Victor, and C.Raymond Knee (2002) who studied anger and aggression among drivers and paid additional attention to the accuracy of data fulfillment and used the 7-grade scale. They also noted that the participants were relatively accurate in reporting the incidents: M = 5.52, SD = 1.11 (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2022).

The outcomes of the current research showed that performance of the records has almost no influence on the frequency of experienced driving records, as the majority of participants ranged the extent by figures “1” (17 %), “2” (33 %), and “3” (19 %). Thus, it did not serve as an obstacle to the assessment of negative emotions. It is notable that the figure also aligns with the research performed by Clayton Neighbors, Nathaniel A.Victor, and C.Raymond Knee (2002). The authors stated that “keeping the records did not heavily influence their frequency of experiencing driving anger (M = 2.40, SD = 1.56 on a 7-point scale)” (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2022, p. 328).

Discussion and Conclusion

The performed research supported all the stated hypotheses. The emphasis should be made on the fact that the performed research paid additional attention to the assessment of the accuracy of answering the set questions. The accuracy was rather high. Thus, the outcomes of the current work are considered to be relevant.

Hypotheses 1 assumes that anger was formed under the influence of various factors, one of which is the behaviour of other drivers. The majority of respondents indicated more than one causation of anger. The main factors are discourtesy of others, dangerous driving behaviour of others, and traffic jams. All of them are connected with the actions of other people. Such outcomes are close to the ones presented in A motivation model of driving anger and aggression (2022), which states that discourteousness of others and traffic jams lead to driving anger in more than half of the cases. At the same time, the findings of the current work do not support the ideas of An exploration of Australian anger (2022) that presence of police, close driving, and cultural differences make a significant contribution to the formation of driving anger.

The Hypothesis 2 that assumes the high frequency of driving anger was supported. The majority of respondents experienced anger from 7 to 10 days during the ten-day survey. Such outcomes align with the conclusion presented in the works A motivation model of driving anger and aggression (2022) and Handbook of traffic psychology (2021). The first work states that the average number of experiencing anger during driving is 8.45 days within a ten-day period of assessment (Neighbors, Vietor, and Knee, 2022), while the authors of the second work stated that 85 % of people experienced anger connected with driving at least once within a 14-days assessment period (Porter, 2011).

The Hypothesis 3 states that driving anger is connected to the aggression reflected in one or several responses. The majority of respondents noted that they reflected one or several responses of anger. The most frequent of them were muttering, yelling, and name calling. The similar results were obtained in the work Angry drivers: Characteristics and clinical interventions (2019). Additionally, the authors of the article Driving statistics – challenge to change (2020) stated that the majority of response cases are connected with lane keeping.

There were several limitations of the performed study. The first one is that the research was performed among a limited amount of population. Thus, it is recommended to perform the broader study of the chosen topic. The additional attention should be paid to the fact that all the respondents were students of the psychological department, and the majority of them were female. Consequently, the representatives of other professions of various ages were not included in the study.

In conclusion, the current work evidences that the majority of people experience driving anger. The main cause of this feeling is the driving behaviour of other people on the road. It is notable that people tend to provide active reactions to such behaviour reflected in aggression. Consequently, such reactions serve as the main causes of traffic incidents.


It is recommended to perform the additional study of internal factors, which cause driving anger. The factors are represented by driver’s behaviour and actions of other people inside of the vehicle. It is assumed that these actions would also have a considerable influence on the formation of anger and aggression on the road. Moreover, it is proposed to investigate various factors which could mitigate the negative emotions during driving. These factors may represent the solution of the high amount of incidents on roads and lead to decreasing the number of people’s deaths.

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