Why do people's personalities change when they're driving a car?
Is it a power thing, being in control of a vehicle? Dissociation from the other person, being separated by glass and metal?
Seems to me, that people behave badly toward each other on the road, when it wouldn't happen if they were standing next to each, perhaps trying to go through the same door at the same time.
What's it all about?
You're exactly right, being separated by glass and metal tends to have us thinking more selfishly. Ever noticed how much more belligerent people are on the internet, where they're physically disconnected from the people they interact with? Same principle.
On top of that, people always seem to believe that the speed they drive at is the ideal speed. Anyone going lower is too slow; anyone faster is a maniac. Since we tend to think of ourselves first, if we see a slow driver, we don't think "Maybe there car has a problem" or "Maybe they want to drive slower to be safe". Instead, we get mad and honk at them.
Call me silly, but I think you can often accurately assess how selfless a person is by their driving. How polite will they be when there's a screen between them and other drivers, and no one will see their kindnesses?
That is an interesting question. The automobile itself is thought by research to be an extension of ones personality. One must consider personality does have quarks at times with feelings becoming emotions. Most definitely when one drives an automobile like riding a bike their is the experience of being in control of 'something' offering the sensation of power. Responsibly driving or even riding a bike is at task by us all. There in lay another question regarding personality and driving - How responsible is one's character?
indeed, good point... and that sensation of power, is that the sum of it then, why people become different behind the wheel... that many people can't handle even a small bit of power wisely...?
Not sure regarding handling power wisely, yet shall ponder. I offer maybe it is not understanding 'how' powerful and 'how much' power a car really is and has. In one sense a car does fly when considering how much contact patch there is with the tires
yes, that is a better and fairer way of looking at it... Had not thought of that, that a car does fly, in a sense.... I guess we all want to fly deep down, maybe this is why we love cars...
It's complicated; there are probably many reasons why some people's personalities seem to change when they drive. Generally speaking, I find many people to be immature. They begin driving when they are still teenagers and come from a background of being controlled by their parents. Suddenly, for the first time in their lives, they gain some control. It goes to their heads; they feel a sudden rush of power, and this feeling, coupled with the natural teenage opinion that they know everything and that they are invincible, causes them to drive too aggressively. Some people never grow up beyond that.
Others become more mature over time and outgrow that first feeling of power, and recognize the responsibility of controlling a large heavy hunk of metal hurtling down the highway beside other similar hunks. There are many factors at play here, age, marital status, parenthood, and so on. Some people continue to mature and become more responsible, and some don't.
Add to the mix the narcissist or sociopathic personalities out there sharing the road with the rest of us, and you have an enormous hodgepodge of different types of drivers. People think they are anonymous behind the wheel, but in today's world, that's no longer true. People have cell phones and take pictures of license plates and post the pictures on Facebook, so it would behoove people to know that they are not in their own little world when they are behind the wheel. Others see them and note their behavior.
It pleases me to be courteous and allow another driver to merge into my lane. However, in the same exact situation, my husband will speed up and not allow them in. It's scary out there; if we stop and think about it, we will huddle under the covers and not go out.
I couldn't agree more, the road is a scary place. When I took my driving lessons years ago, the instructor said to me, that every time she got into the car, she thought to herself it might be her last. To drum into her pupils how dangerous roads are.
I think much of it has to do with being a great equalizer. Much like the pistol of the old west. Suddenly people who would be no match for others in the physical or mental worlds are equal. A mere child equal to a CEO a housewife equal to an athlete. Those who are not used to competition in the ordinary life can now compete with abandon. A certain immaturity and lack of self control comes with this new found power and equality.
We do not teach new drivers the "art" or craft of driving. We do not train them. We simply teach them the rules that make everyone even more equal on the road and this breeds further "competition" on the roadway.
Personally my attitude changes behind the wheel. While I am assertive and practice some offensive driving, I become much less aggressive than I am normally. In the natural social world my behavior could be disliked, behind the wheel it could be deadly.
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