Number of bumper stickers predicts road rage

Pure Pedantry has picked up on a wonderful study that has found that incidences of road rage correlate with the number of bumper stickers a person has on their car.

The abstract below suggests that bumper stickers are potentially an expression of territorial markers and that aggressive people are more likely to use more, but I think we all know it’s just down to the fact that “my other car is a Ferrari” just isn’t funny any more.

Territorial Markings as a Predictor of Driver Aggression and Road Rage

Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol 38 (6) p1664-1688, June 2008

William J. Szlemko, Jacob A. Benfield, Paul A. Bell, Jerry L. Deffenbacher, Lucy Troup

Aggressive driving has received substantial media coverage during the past decade. We report 3 studies testing a territorial explanation of aggressive driving. Altman (1975) described attachment to, personalization of, and defense of primary territories (e.g., home) as being greater than for public territories (e.g., sunbathing spot on a beach). Aggressive driving may occur when social norms for defending a primary territory (i.e., one’s automobile) become confused with less aggressive norms for defending a public territory (i.e., the road). Both number of territory markers (e.g., bumper stickers, decals) and attachment to the vehicle were significant predictors of aggressive driving. Mere presence of a territory marker predicts increased use of the vehicle to express anger and decreased use of adaptive/constructive expressions.

Link to Pure Pedantry on the study.
Link to abstract of scientific study.

4 thoughts on “Number of bumper stickers predicts road rage”

  1. It is very interesting to know that there is such study with regards to bumper stickers and road rage. My personal opinion with this is that people are indeed territorial in various ways while aggressive driving falls as one of the many ways to express territorial biases.

    However, bumper stickers and car decals should not be taken generally. Vehicle wraps for example can be used for mere advertising alone. Just always keep in mind that you should be responsible of to what content you place in your stickers. If it is somewhat offensive – definitely aggression-driven-drivers may be tailing your back.

    Try at least to send out a positive message when installing vehicle wraps and decals.

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