Bumper stickers signal hostility
A CSU professor finds that drivers with "territorial markers" are more likely to express rage with a vehicle.
By Shankar Vedantam
The Washington Post
Article Last Updated: 06/17/2008 12:32:31 AM MDT
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 doesn't 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").