Seeking Applicants Interested in Traffic Psychology

With regard to doctoral and master's admissions for the 2017 academic year, the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is particularly interested in receiving applications from individuals interested in conducting psychological research on aspects of personality and driving behavior, with relevance to driving anger, aggressive driving, risky driving (e.g., speeding, driving while distracted), and/or accident-related outcomes. A variety of both adaptive and maladaptive personality constructs are of interest in this area. Examples of potentially relevant adaptive personality constructs include empathy for others, emotional intelligence, trait forgiveness, and consideration of the future consequences of one's behavior. Examples of potentially relevant maladaptive personality traits include impulsivity, sensation seeking, boredom proneness, and a variety of "dark personality" traits.

We have several ideas for research projects in this area and are hoping to attract qualified applicants with compatible interests.

Sarah Burghaus Proposes Thesis on Driving Anger

Sarah Burghaus, a doctoral student in her second year, successfully proposed her master's thesis yesterday. She hopes to begin data collection in January.

We know that driving anger is a robust predictor of aggressive driving, non-aggressive forms of unsafe driving, and a number of crash-related conditions (e.g., near misses, losses of concentration while driving). Sarah's thesis, Relationship of Mindfulness, Empathy, and Consideration of Future Consequences to Driving Anger, will examine three variables which may mitigate the experience of driving anger: trait mindfulness, empathy, and the consideration of future consequences.

Sarah will determine whether these variables can enhance the prediction of driving anger beyond the contribution of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality. If these variables can explain additional variance in driving anger, it will help to support a case for assessing these constructs as part of a comprehensive evaluation of driver risk and may inform the development of more sophisticated models for understanding the proximate factors contributing to unsafe driving.

Lab Accepting Applications From Incoming Masters Students

The lab is currently accepting applications from masters students who will be joining the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Southern Mississippi in the Fall. Incoming masters students interested in anger, aggression, and traffic psychology are encouraged to complete an application.

Projects likely to begin in the Fall include:
  • Help seeking for anger problems among college students
  • Anger and alcohol abuse
  • Developing a brief screening and early intervention program for college students at risk of developing anger-related problems
  • Cultural factors in relational aggression
  • Developing improved measures of aggressive driving
Of course, we are always interested in students' ideas and welcome projects in other areas, as long as they are generally relevant to our work.

Lab's Work Noticed by the Wall Street Journal

Our work at the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab was noted by The Wall Street Journal in an article published today about “sidewalk rage.” I was one of several anger researchers interviewed for the story, and the author did an impressive job of capturing the current state of the research on this form of aggression.

“Sidewalk rage” is a relatively new term being used to describe aggressive behavior between pedestrians, but it is already starting to generate interest in major cities. According to the article, a measure of pedestrian aggressiveness has been developed, and this should facilitate additional research. It will be interesting to see how pedestrian aggressiveness compares to aggressive driving. I expect the processes underlying both conditions to be similar; however, I would not be surprised to find some important differences as well. For example, I suspect that impatience may play a bigger role in aggression among pedestrians than it does among drivers.

The Driver Stress Profile

Michael Moore, a doctoral student from the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab who is now on internship at the Memphis VA Medical Center, successfully defended his dissertation last week, "Further Validation of the Larson Driver Stress Profile." Congratulations soon-to-be-Dr. Moore!

The Driver Stress Profile (DSP; Larson, 1996) is a 40-item self-report measure of four constructs thought to be relevant to aggressive driving: competitiveness, anger, impatience, and punishing other drivers. Michael's dissertation provided initial evidence of the construct validity of a version of this measure after refining it through exploratory factor analysis. Although additional work is needed before this modified version of the DSP can be considered complete, initial results are promising. The revised DSP was found to predict motor vehicle accidents, aggressive driving,risky driving, and driving anger expression. In fact, the DSP was able to explain an additional 20% of the variance in aggressive driving even after accounting for gender, miles driven/week, driving anger, and sensation seeking.