June 17, 2008
Road Rage — Don't be fooled by a seemingly 'crunchy' bumper sticker
Shankar Vedantam's article in yesterday's Washington Post about aggressive driving and road rage explained why people who put bumper stickers on their cars — not just ones like that pictured above but also seemingly crunchy types like "Visualize Whirled Peas" — are "... far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage...."
Long story short: Once you put a bumper sticker on a car — "marking it" — the vehicle becomes highly personal territory and thus much more likely to be aggressively defended against perceived invaders of your space.
Here's Vedantam's piece.
- Looking to Avoid Aggressive Drivers? Check Those Bumpers
Three horrors await Americans who get behind the wheel of a car for a family road trip this summer: the spiraling price of gas, the usual choruses of "are-we-there-yet?" — and the road rage of fellow drivers.
Divine intervention might be needed for the first two problems, but science has discovered a solution for the third.
Watch out for cars with bumper stickers.
That's the surprising conclusion of a recent study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko. Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other "territorial markers" not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage — by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.
It does not seem to matter whether the messages on the stickers are about peace and love — "Visualize World Peace," "My Kid Is an Honor Student" — or angry and in your face — "Don't Mess With Texas," "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student."
Hey, you clown! This ain't funny! Aggressive driving might be responsible for up to two-thirds of all U.S. traffic accidents that involve injuries.
Szlemko and his colleagues at Fort Collins found that people who personalize their cars acknowledge that they are aggressive drivers, but usually do not realize that they are reporting much higher levels of aggression than people whose cars do not have visible markers on their vehicles.
Drivers who do not personalize their cars get angry, too, Szlemko and his colleagues concluded in a paper they recently published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, but they don't act out their anger. They fume, mentally call the other driver a jerk, and move on.
"The more markers a car has, the more aggressively the person tends to drive when provoked," Szlemko said. "Just the presence of territory markers predicts the tendency to be an aggressive driver."
The key to the phenomenon apparently lies in the idea of territoriality. Drivers with road rage tend to think of public streets and highways as "my street" and "my lane" — in other words, they think they "own the road."
Why would bumper stickers predict which people are likely to view public roadways as private property?
Social scientists such as Szlemko say that people carry around three kinds of territorial spaces in their heads. One is personal territory — like a home, or a bedroom. The second kind involves space that is temporarily yours — an office cubicle or a gym locker. The third kind is public territory: park benches, walking trails — and roads.
Previous research has shown that these different territorial spaces evoke distinct emotional responses. People are willing to physically defend private territory in ways they would never do with public territory. And people personalize private territory with various kinds of markers — in their homes, for example, they hang paintings, alter the decor and carry out renovations.
"Territoriality is hard-wired into our ancestors from tens of thousands of years ago," said Paul Bell, a co-author of the study at Colorado State. "Animals are territorial because it had survival value. If you could keep others away from your hunting groups, you had more game to spear... it becomes part of the biology."
Drivers who individualize their cars using bumper stickers, window decals and personalized license plates, the researchers hypothesized, see their cars in the same way as they see their homes and bedrooms -- as deeply personal space, or primary territory.
Unlike any environment our evolutionary ancestors might have confronted, driving a car simultaneously places people in both private territory — their cars — and public territory — the road. Drivers who personalize their cars with bumper stickers and other markers of private territory, the researchers argue, forget when they are on the road that they are in public territory because the immediate cues surrounding them tell them that they are in a deeply private space.
"If you are in a vehicle that you identify as a primary territory, you would defend that against other people whom you perceive as being disrespectful of your space," Bell added. "What you ignore is that you are on a public roadway — you lose sight of the fact you are in a public area and you don't own the road."
Szlemko said that, in an as-yet-unpublished experiment, he conducted tests of road rage in actual traffic. He had one researcher sit in a car in a left-turn lane. When the light turned green, the researcher simply stayed still, blocking the car behind.
Another researcher, meanwhile, examined whether the blocked car had bumper stickers and other markers of territoriality. The experimental question was how long it would take for the driver of the blocked car to honk in frustration.
Szlemko said that drivers of cars with decals, bumper stickers and personalized license plates honked at the offending vehicle nearly two full seconds faster than drivers of cars without any territorial markers.
Here's the abstract of Szlemko's paper.
- Territorial Markings as a Predictor of Driver Aggression and Road Rage
Aggressive driving has received substantial media coverage during the past decade. We report 3 studies testing a territorial explanation of aggressive driving. Altman 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.
A road rage starter kit costs $10.17.
Guy Kawasaki doesn't mess around
I featured his new "Digital magazine rack" at alltop.com at 10:01 a.m. today and emailed him to let him know, also suggesting he consider adding bookofjoe to the "Gadgets" section (it seemed the best fit of the available categories).
In a few minutes he emailed me back, writing "Thanks for the mention, and we agree about adding your site."
He added, "We’re always open to adding more high-quality feeds too. Please let me know your thoughts."
OK, then — Judie Lipsett's Geardiary immediately sprang to mind so I sent him a link to her site.
And lo and behold, what do I see over in Alltop's Gadgets feeds (scroll down to the bottom) just a few minutes ago but the latest additions — Bookofjoe and Geardiary (top).
Like I said, Guy doesn't mess around.
Custom Receipt Maker
"This tool lets you make your own custom receipts."
A number of applications spring instantly to mind.
[via Neatorama and the sorely-missed Brian Nelson, who just reemerged today into Earth space from a secure, undisclosed dimension. I hope he stays a while 'cause he's wired into tons of great stuff.]
Vilcus Dactyloadapter* Circuit Tester
From the website:
Vilcus dactyloadapter was developed specially for people who enjoy closing electrical circuits with their own fingers.
Many people get a kick out of direct contact with an AC power supply.
To that end, people normally use U-shaped fragments of bare wire, paper clips or even common metal forks.
All these gimmicks are unreliable, short-lived and, most importantly, tend to cause short-circuits or fires.
Vilcus does not itself consume power, so you can leave it plugged till next time.
Avid travelers will appreciate the replaceable plugs [below] — for European and American sockets — that are part of the standard package.
For group sessions, Vilcus users may obtain a Rozetkus power strip [below].
* Finger adapter
[via Planète Béranger]
'California Roll over, Rover' — Sushi for dogs
Yesterday's USA Today story about the new new thing in canine delights — "a hand-rolled dog snack that looks and smells like fish" — follows.
- California Roll over, Rover
Think of it as sushi for your dog — no chopsticks required. Pet Botanics Omega Treats, a hand-rolled dog snack that looks and smells like sushi, is just hitting pet store shelves. The basic ingredient is fish and, as at your favorite sushi restaurant, there are varieties to choose from, such as cod rolled with tuna, salmon or duck.
Good news for doggie dieters: They have just 9 calories each and are loaded with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. "They won't give your pooch a paunch like a lot of dog biscuits will," says Tony De Vos, president of treat maker Cardinal Laboratories.
For people who think of their dogs as dogs — and not family members — the $4.99 tab for a 6-ounce bag may be over-the-top, De Vos says. "But people do crazy things during tough times to take their minds off their troubles, and for under five bucks, it's a cheap thrill."
Get yours here.
Fortune Teller Finger Guard
- Get-It Finger Guard
Shaped like one of those cootie catchers that kids use to tell fortunes.
Made from silicone, it's a pot holder variant designed to provide good dexterity and keep your fingers safe from heat.
Flexible and heat-resistant (up to 600ºF), it's perfectly shaped to pick up difficult-to-grab objects like hard boiled eggs, baked potatoes, knobs or pot handles.
When not in use, it sits up on the counter.
Sara Schaefer Muñoz reviewed in the May 8, 2008 Wall Street Journal as follows.
- Get-It Finger Guard
This is designed like those playground "fortune-tellers" with four separate points that protect the fingers, and its fun design might inspire kids to help out in the kitchen. We found it useful, especially for tasks that require a bit of dexterity, like pulling an egg from boiling water or peeling up hot foil on a baking dish. But beware of contact with the sides or top of the oven — this doesn't cover the knuckles or upper hand.
Red, Mediterranean Blue or Wasabi.
Alltop.com — 'Digital magazine rack'
"To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points — they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and helping you discover sites that you didn’t know existed. In other words, our goal is the "cessation of Internet stagnation" by providing "aggregation without aggravation."
Well, there it is.
Guy Kawasaki's involved so no matter what, you know it's at least gonna be interesting.
From the website:
- Stamp Mirror
We know you always wanted to see yourself on a stamp — well, here is your chance.
Perfect for mounting on the wall with the provided sticky pads.