Mike Stevens | Apr 29, 2011

A new study exploring the psychology behind our on-road decisions shows that envy and shame are two of the biggest factors in our attitude toward other drivers.

Observing 959 interactions on the roads of Brisbane, researchers at the University of Queensland found that what motorists think of a person's car, their gender and whether a friend is present often impacts on how we treat our fellow drivers.

The study showed that owners of more expensive cars were 18 percent less likely to find kindness from other motorists - a factor driven by envy and jealousy, according to researchers Redzo Mujcic and Paul Frijters.

There was solidarity among owners of similar vehicles however, with drivers of SUVs and other large cars more likely to make room for their like, rather than for smaller cars.

The results showed that only 40 percent of motorists were willing to allow another car to move in front from the neighbouring lane or an intersecting street.

Throw gender into the mix, and it was observed that male drivers were 22 percent more likely to let a female driver cut in. With the tables turned, women were only 15 percent more likely to make room for a male driver.

Motorists with passengers were also 25 percent more likely to sacrifice their spot on the road, with motorists eager to appear altruistic in front of their friends.

It was also observed that when one motorist allows another driver to slip in front from an intersecting road or merging lane, following motorists were likely to do the same.


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