Shyness, suggestibility and aggressive driving

shynessThe journal Personality and Individual Differences covers wide range of interesting material and there’s usually one or two articles in each issue that have relevance to forensic issues, either directly or in directly. Here’s a selection from recent and forthcoming issues.

In the September issue, Gisli Gudjonsson and colleagues report that individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were not more suggestible in an interview situation than a control participants without ADHD. Gudjonsson et al. explain that ADHD participants didn’t yield to misinformation, leading questions and interrogative pressure, though they did give a disproportionate number of “don’t know” replies.

In November’s issue, researchers from Carlton University in Ontario report results of a study exploring whether shy eye-witnesses differ from non-shy witnesses when it comes to recall memory and susceptibility to misinformation. Contrary to predictions, they don’t (although the shy ones do get more stressed about it). It’s always interesting when you get negative results, or results that contradict existing findings. But my interest in this particular study is tempered by the fact that the ‘witnesses’ were watching a filmed mock crime rather than a genuine event.

Finally, in the December issue (which is already online), Murray Millar from the University of Nevada examines the relationship between emotion, personality and behaviour. He found that although people may get angry when they are driving, they are less likely to behave aggressively if they are the sort of person who cares a lot about what others think of them, a trait known as public self-consciousness. Miller explains:

Private self-consciousness is the tendency to focus attention upon the inner aspects of oneself such as thoughts, inner feelings, and physical sensations. Public self-consciousness is the tendency to focus attention on the self as a social object. People high in public self-consciousness are concerned about what other people think about them and how they appear to others

Miller concludes:

The current study indicates that when people are angry public self-consciousness influences whether anger leads to aggressive behavior. Overall, the relationship between personality and aggression is likely to involve a constellation of personality traits with some traits predisposing people to anger and other traits predisposing people to express anger as aggressive behavior. At a practical level, the present study suggests that when attempting to reduce aggressive driving behaviors it might be useful to focus on variables that combine with anger to produce aggression. For example, a combination of interventions aimed at reducing anger and increasing public self-consciousness, at least while driving, may reduce the amount of aggressive driving behavior.

What’s true for aggressive driving behaviour may well be true for other forms of aggressive behaviour too.


Photo credit: cheesebikini, Creative Commons License

One thought on “Shyness, suggestibility and aggressive driving”

  1. People with untreated ADHD have a 6-second attention span. Essentially they only pay attention for six seconds at a time. That is why there were so many “don’t know” replies.

    I’m curious how Carlton University researchers determined if witnesses were shy. Often people with ADHD are deemed shy when, in fact, they simply avoid eye contact. This is a matter of lacking the social skill of good eye contact, not a matter of shyness.

    On Miller’s observations, people with the hyperactive/impulsive and combined subtypes of ADHD often develop anger and aggression problems. This often manifests as ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) in children. Sixty-five percent of children with ADHD develop it.

    People with ADHD often develop social problems because their short attention span prevents them from gleaning social skills from observing others.

    I would suspect that on further inspection, Miller may find that these angry aggressive drivers have ADHD.

    The insurance companies are already aware of this connection. Check out insurance premiums for drivers known to have ADHD, especially teens.

    Thank you for this information.

    Yours in parenting success,
    Debra Sale Wendler

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