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A Communicative Approach to Road Rage: Accounts of Driving and Retaliation
Unformatted Document Text:  Road Rage 22 the wrong done by the other driver. Attributions. Consistent with previous theory and research on attributions, respondents were most likely to blame the road rage incident on the other driver. Moreover, attributions made for the other driver were consistently more negative than those made for the self. The tendency for most participants was to explain the other driver’s behavior as due to an internal feature while attributing their own behavior to external causes, this self-serving tendency represents an actor-observer bias discussed in research on martial conflict (e.g., Sillars, Roberts, Leonard, & Dun, 2000). Negative attributions could also be a reason why people are so willing to engage in road rage activity. Specifically, people who see the cause of a problem as reflecting global, stable, internal, and selfish dimensions are more likely to engage in negative and competitive behavior (Canary, Spitzberg, & Semic, 1997). Furthermore, a negative action by one driver may elicit a violent reaction from another when the action is seen as controllable and intentional, as is often the case in road rage (Betancourt & Blair, 1992). Although a small percentage of drivers took responsibility for the road rage incident, these self attributions were not as negative as those given to the other driver. As stated above, the attributional discrepancies reflect the actor-observer bias. Lessons. Very few respondents indicated that they hard learned anything valuable from the road rage incident. It was more common for respondents to say they had taught or hoped they had taught the other driver a lesson. If people make negative attributions about the other driver, it is unlikely they will learn a lesson from the event. Therefore, it makes sense that, given the preponderance negative attributions, only a few people would admit to learning any type of personal lesson. Limitations and Future Directions One limitation of the present study is the source of data. Self-report data may be influenced by socially desirable responding. Respondents often responded in a way that portrayed themselves in a favorable light. Though participants in road rage incidents may provide in-depth descriptions, they may not always provide unbiased information. Future research that depends on self-report data should include a measure for social desirability. Another limitation is the length of time since the road rage incident. It is best to ask participants

Authors: Canary, Daniel., Mikkelson, Alan., Switzer, Frank. and Bailey, Carrie.
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Road Rage 22
the wrong done by the other driver.
Attributions. Consistent with previous theory and research on attributions, respondents were most
likely to blame the road rage incident on the other driver. Moreover, attributions made for the other driver
were consistently more negative than those made for the self. The tendency for most participants was to
explain the other driver’s behavior as due to an internal feature while attributing their own behavior to
external causes, this self-serving tendency represents an actor-observer bias discussed in research on martial
conflict (e.g., Sillars, Roberts, Leonard, & Dun, 2000). Negative attributions could also be a reason why
people are so willing to engage in road rage activity. Specifically, people who see the cause of a problem as
reflecting global, stable, internal, and selfish dimensions are more likely to engage in negative and
competitive behavior (Canary, Spitzberg, & Semic, 1997). Furthermore, a negative action by one driver
may elicit a violent reaction from another when the action is seen as controllable and intentional, as is often
the case in road rage (Betancourt & Blair, 1992). Although a small percentage of drivers took responsibility
for the road rage incident, these self attributions were not as negative as those given to the other driver. As
stated above, the attributional discrepancies reflect the actor-observer bias.
Lessons. Very few respondents indicated that they hard learned anything valuable from the road
rage incident. It was more common for respondents to say they had taught or hoped they had taught the
other driver a lesson. If people make negative attributions about the other driver, it is unlikely they will
learn a lesson from the event. Therefore, it makes sense that, given the preponderance negative attributions,
only a few people would admit to learning any type of personal lesson.
Limitations and Future Directions
One limitation of the present study is the source of data. Self-report data may be influenced by
socially desirable responding. Respondents often responded in a way that portrayed themselves in a
favorable light. Though participants in road rage incidents may provide in-depth descriptions, they may not
always provide unbiased information. Future research that depends on self-report data should include a
measure for social desirability.
Another limitation is the length of time since the road rage incident. It is best to ask participants


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