A recent UK study of 1,000 drivers reveals women are, on average, 12 percent angrier than men are when they’re behind the wheel.

Researchers found driving sparked ancient ‘defence’ instincts from when humans were hunter-gatherers.

These evolutionary traits kicked in during the test when women were either undertaken, shouted or beeped at, had to deal with a back-seat driver (women 14 percent angrier) or were faced with a road user who failed to indicate (women 13 percent angrier). In all test scenarios, women were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers were.

The experiment, conducted by Patrick Fagan, behavioural psychologist from Goldsmiths University London, ‘sense tested’ the 1,000 drivers to see how sound, sight, smell, touch and taste provoke emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

The study found there are two dominant emotions: happiness – intrinsically linked to a sense of freedom when driving – and anger when drivers feel out of control.

Explaining the results of the Hyundai UK sponsored survey, Fagan commented: “Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism. Evolutionary theory suggests our early female ancestors had to develop an acute sense of danger for anything that threatened them and their young if their cave was undefended while men were out hunting. That ‘early warning system’ instinct is still relevant today, and women drivers tend to be more sensitive to negative stimuli, so get angry and frustrated quicker.”

Other key findings include:

The primary reasons for our continued love affair with driving are the freedom it gives us (51 percent), mobility (19 percent) and independence (10 percent).  If you want a man to open up, take him for a drive. Just under a third (29 percent) of men said they find it easier to have a conversation in the car. Fourteen percent added that a chat actually makes them a better driver.

Around 54 percent of Brits said the thing that made them happy in the car was singing. When the researchers looked at what makes us happy behind the wheel, 84 per cent of people said “empty roads”, 78 per cent said “the countryside” and 69 per cent “the seaside.”

Music also makes drivers happy. Eight out of 10 people nearly always listen to something while driving with Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody top of the driving charts. Pop (70 percent) and rock (61 percent) are the most popular genres.

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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