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A Communicative Approach to Road Rage: Accounts of Driving and Retaliation
Unformatted Document Text:  Road Rage 19 I see it, if your [sic] over 65 yrs of age and can’t drive faster than 10mph, then they shouldn’t be able to drive period.” Some attributions were placed on drivers based on their physical appearance. One described incident, which ended in violence, began, “Because it seemed as if he [the other driver] was trying to be a ‘tough-guy.’” The respondent stated further that the other driver was a “ratty lookin’ punk kid.” Research Question 2b asked whether people accept responsibility, if only in part, for their road rage behavior. Although only 11 (16%) participants made self-attributions, those that were made were less negative than the attributions made about the other driver. The means and standard deviations are as follows: responsible/not responsible (M=4.55, Sd=1.92), internal/external (M=4.55, Sd=2.11), stable/unstable (M=4.45, Sd=2.11), global/specific (M=4.45, Sd=2.11), intentional/unintentional (M=3.36, Sd=1.21), blameworthy/blameless (M=3.91, Sd=1.58). Some people openly admitted self-blame. One driver wrote, “Basically I was paying little attention, trying to get in the proper lanes to reach my destination. By failing to accurately check my blind spot I tried to whip over a lane, consequently almost side-swiping a car.” Some self attributions credited fault to factors that were beyond their control. “I’m very impatient I was late for work. Stressed about school and meeting deadlines.” Thus, it appears that some participants take some responsibility for the road rage event. However, according to the means, these attributions are much more positive and fair than those made about the other driver. Reflections on the Incident Research Question 3 concerned reflections, if any, that participants might have about the road rage incident. The reflections on the incident consisted of two yes-no questions. First, were causes explicitly offered by the participant? Fifty-nine percent of the participants gave some kind of cause for the road rage event. As stated above, the cause was largely attributed to the other driver. An even more striking statistic is that only 20% of the participants learned a lesson from the event. Interestingly, only one of the participants who learned a lesson was male. Some people also learned lessons from the aggressive driving incident. As one respondent wrote, “Overall, I learned that becoming aggressive with someone is not worth it to deal with situations like these.” One driver recently had a new engine put on her car and was unable to drive above 55 mph for the first 600 miles. On the freeway (where the speed limit

Authors: Canary, Daniel., Mikkelson, Alan., Switzer, Frank. and Bailey, Carrie.
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Road Rage 19
I see it, if your [sic] over 65 yrs of age and can’t drive faster than 10mph, then they shouldn’t be able to
drive period.” Some attributions were placed on drivers based on their physical appearance. One described
incident, which ended in violence, began, “Because it seemed as if he [the other driver] was trying to be a
‘tough-guy.’” The respondent stated further that the other driver was a “ratty lookin’ punk kid.”
Research Question 2b asked whether people accept responsibility, if only in part, for their road rage
behavior. Although only 11 (16%) participants made self-attributions, those that were made were less
negative than the attributions made about the other driver. The means and standard deviations are as
follows: responsible/not responsible (M=4.55, Sd=1.92), internal/external (M=4.55, Sd=2.11),
stable/unstable (M=4.45, Sd=2.11), global/specific (M=4.45, Sd=2.11), intentional/unintentional (M=3.36,
Sd=1.21), blameworthy/blameless (M=3.91, Sd=1.58). Some people openly admitted self-blame. One
driver wrote, “Basically I was paying little attention, trying to get in the proper lanes to reach my
destination. By failing to accurately check my blind spot I tried to whip over a lane, consequently almost
side-swiping a car.” Some self attributions credited fault to factors that were beyond their control. “I’m
very impatient I was late for work. Stressed about school and meeting deadlines.” Thus, it appears that
some participants take some responsibility for the road rage event. However, according to the means, these
attributions are much more positive and fair than those made about the other driver.
Reflections on the Incident
Research Question 3 concerned reflections, if any, that participants might have about the road rage
incident. The reflections on the incident consisted of two yes-no questions. First, were causes explicitly
offered by the participant? Fifty-nine percent of the participants gave some kind of cause for the road rage
event. As stated above, the cause was largely attributed to the other driver.
An even more striking statistic is that only 20% of the participants learned a lesson from the event.
Interestingly, only one of the participants who learned a lesson was male. Some people also learned lessons
from the aggressive driving incident. As one respondent wrote, “Overall, I learned that becoming aggressive
with someone is not worth it to deal with situations like these.” One driver recently had a new engine put on
her car and was unable to drive above 55 mph for the first 600 miles. On the freeway (where the speed limit


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