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A Communicative Approach to Road Rage: Accounts of Driving and Retaliation
Unformatted Document Text:  Road Rage 9 explain a type of social episode between two people (Lupton, 2002). Few, if any, of the factors currently examined are borne from actual road rage episodes between two people. As the road rage problem continues to swell, what should be of increasing interest to researchers and the public are the symbolic behaviors and associated emotions of people involved in road rage incidents. We view road rage as a type of conflict episode between two or more people. The unique car-driver relationship both inhibits usual message strategies for managing conflict, while at the same time it promotes other types of symbolic behavior that involve actual use of the car to make one’s point. Although such symbolic behaviors might appear rudimentary, researchers have not explored the symbolic manifestations of road rage behaviors. We believe that by examining the detailed accounts that people give for the ways in which road rage occurs, we can gain a greater understanding of the nature of road rage and the role of communication in it. Accordingly, our first research question specifically addresses this issue: RQ1: What accounts do people provide regarding their road rage experiences? a. What behaviors do participants claim initiate road rage? b. What behavioral reactions to road rage initiation do participants report? c. What emotional reactions to road rage episodes do participants report? d. Is there any association between initial, precipitating events in road rage incidents and one’s own road rage behavior? e. Is there any association between emotional reactions to road rage incidents and one’s road rage behavior? The road rage literature also points clearly to the idea that persons in cars tend to believe that they have special rights, privileges, and territories that must be protected on the road. This right-of-way-for-me attitude combined with the sense of oneness drivers feel with their car leads to the staunch conviction for many drivers that an absolutely inviolable territory surrounds car and driver. Understanding road rage would be increased if attributions were linked to accounts of road rage. Accordingly, we ask the following: RQ2: What are the attributions participants gave for road rage behaviors? a. To whom is the cause of road rage attributed?

Authors: Canary, Daniel., Mikkelson, Alan., Switzer, Frank. and Bailey, Carrie.
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Road Rage 9
explain a type of social episode between two people (Lupton, 2002). Few, if any, of the factors currently
examined are borne from actual road rage episodes between two people. As the road rage problem
continues to swell, what should be of increasing interest to researchers and the public are the symbolic
behaviors and associated emotions of people involved in road rage incidents.
We view road rage as a type of conflict episode between two or more people. The unique car-driver
relationship both inhibits usual message strategies for managing conflict, while at the same time it promotes
other types of symbolic behavior that involve actual use of the car to make one’s point. Although such
symbolic behaviors might appear rudimentary, researchers have not explored the symbolic manifestations of
road rage behaviors. We believe that by examining the detailed accounts that people give for the ways in
which road rage occurs, we can gain a greater understanding of the nature of road rage and the role of
communication in it. Accordingly, our first research question specifically addresses this issue:
RQ1: What accounts do people provide regarding their road rage experiences?
a. What behaviors do participants claim initiate road rage?
b. What behavioral reactions to road rage initiation do participants report?
c. What emotional reactions to road rage episodes do participants report?
d. Is there any association between initial, precipitating events in road rage incidents and
one’s own road rage behavior?
e. Is there any association between emotional reactions to road rage incidents and one’s
road rage behavior?
The road rage literature also points clearly to the idea that persons in cars tend to believe that they
have special rights, privileges, and territories that must be protected on the road. This right-of-way-for-me
attitude combined with the sense of oneness drivers feel with their car leads to the staunch conviction for
many drivers that an absolutely inviolable territory surrounds car and driver. Understanding road rage
would be increased if attributions were linked to accounts of road rage. Accordingly, we ask the following:
RQ2: What are the attributions participants gave for road rage behaviors?
a. To whom is the cause of road rage attributed?


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