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Women angrier than men behind the wheel

Industry news

High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire - Research shows women drivers are on average 12 percent angrier than men.

The study found that when women drivers were overtaken, shouted or hooted at, had to deal with a back-seat driver or with a driver changing lanes in front of them, they were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers in all test scenarios.

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Women drivers tend to be more sensitive to negative stimuli, so they get angry and frustrated more quickly, the study showed.

Patrick Fagan, a behavioural psychologist from Goldsmiths University London, 'sense tested' 1000 drivers to see how sound, sight, smell, touch and taste provoke emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

He used facial coding technology, eye tracking analysis, galvanic skin response and a heart-rate monitor to record how specific stimuli impacted their emotions while driving, then fed the results into specially-developed software to provide a 'Driver Emotion Test' score for each test subject.

Fagan found there were two dominant emotions - happiness, which was linked to a sense of freedom when driving, and anger, when drivers felt out of control.

"Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism," he explained.

"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 they get angry and frustrated more quickly."

But wait, there's more:

The study showed the main reasons for our continued love affair with driving are the freedom it gives us - more than half the test subjects said that - mobility and independence.

Asked what makes us happy behind the wheel, 84 percent said "empty roads", 78 percent said "the countryside" and 69 percent said "the seaside".

Eight out of 10 said they nearly always listened to music while driving - mostly pop (70 percent) and rock (60 percent), with Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen top of the driving charts.

And 54 percent said what made them really happy was singing - which explains the popularity of Carpool Karaoke videos.

And finally, if you want a man to open up, take him for a drive. Almost a third (29 percent) of the 500 men in the study said they found it easier to have a conversation in the car. Fourteen percent added that chatting actually made them a better driver.

Click here to do an online version of the Driver Emotion Test.

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