A new ongoing study into social psychology on the road has identified seven distinct types of drivers, based on common behaviours encountered on the daily commute.
Motorists come in all shades, of course. Last year, CarAdvice identified 11 types, from the Fast Lane Hog and the Tailgater, to the Swerver and the Dozy Dawdler.
This latest research, carried out in Europe by the London School of Economics and Political Science, and tyre manufacturer Goodyear, is described as a study into the attitudes of motorists toward road safety through cooperation.
The seven driver types, the study claims, were defined by analysing how survey interviewees and focus group participants “deal with their own feelings and their uncertainty as to the behaviour of other road users”.
Leading the way is the Teacher, who feels compelled to ensure that other drivers understand the error of their ways – and wouldn’t mind a pat on the back for the effort.
The Know-it-all is, as the name suggests, convinced that other motorists are “incompetent fools”, a situation they attempt to redress by shouting condescendingly at other drivers. Usually with the window up.
Then there’s the Competitor, who exists in a constant battle for ‘first place’, wherever that might be. At the front of whoever was previously in front of them, at least. Expect this person to close every gap to ensure they’re never overtaken – although it’ll be a short-lived inconvenience to them if it ever occurs.
The Punisher, possibly related to the Teacher, is inclined to educate through confrontation. “I eyeball people all the time,” one focus group member said while identifying as this type of driver.
One we could perhaps all take a few notes from is the Philosopher, taking misbehaviour in their stride and carrying on without losing their temper. “Most of the time I don’t get stressed. Everybody is just in a hurry,” one such road user said.
The Avoider simply keeps well clear of annoying motorists as a potential hazard, dropping speed or moving into another lane to ward off a potential confrontation.
Lastly, there’s the Escapee, who chats on the phone or tunes into some calming music to avoid slipping into the mentality of, well, any of the other six driver types. Distraction is a problem for this type.
According to the project’s research lead, social psychologist Dr Chris Tennant, all seven types are trouble – even the Avoider and the Philosopher.
“Much of the time we can sit happily in the comfortable bubble of our car, but around any corner we may have to interact with other drivers. This makes the road a challenging and uncertain social environment,” Tennant said.
“While we may worry about others’ driving, this research suggests that their behavior also depends on what we do.”
“We create the personalities that we don’t like,” he added.
It’s no easy thing to be slotted into these categories, either. Tennant says that all seven driver types are, in most cases, facets of every motorist.
“From a psychological point of view, these different types of personalities represent different outlets that drivers use to deal with their frustrations and strong feelings. We are not always entirely one or the other,” he said.
“Depending on the situation and the interaction with others, most of us will find several of these profiles emerge.”
Do you identify with any of the seven driver types highlighted in the study? Do you encounter these types often? Tell us in the comments below.