Drivers Cool Anger with Relaxation Techniques
United Press International - August 26, 2001
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Aug 26, 2001 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- One year after undergoing relaxation and other psychological treatments, drivers who said they had anger problems said the program still kept them calm at the wheel.
When researcher Tracy Richards, a counseling psychology researcher at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, reviewed the diaries of study participants she reported:
-- Lowered aggressive expression -- the drivers reduced the number of angry hand gestures directed at other motorist.
-- Increased ability to handle incidents that used to bring on aggressive responses.
-- Decreased the drivers' general anger and aggressive behavior behind the wheel.
"The reduction of anger intensity in the diaries suggested that although the number of events triggering anger was not lowered, treated participants reacted with less intensity," Richards said Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, Calif.
Previous studies had shown that the psychological interventions appeared to reduce anger after one month; the new study shows that the learned techniques continue to work for most of the drivers.
Richards and colleagues recruited 145 participants who scored highly on tests showing that they were likely to become angered by other drivers. The 52 men and 93 women -- all college students -- also admitted that they thought they had a problem with anger, too. Richards said some drivers who scored high on the anger scale, nevertheless, didn't think they had a problem and did not participate in the series of relaxation and other techniques designed to reduce anger.
Richards also noted that while the drivers anger outburst may have been calmed, they still engaged in risky driving maneuvers at similar rates.
Reducing this aspect of their driving will be another area of research she told United Press International. She said there are still several aspects of the ongoing studies "If these interventions show they can reduce anger while driving," said Linda Muldoon, a therapist at the student counseling center at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, "the courts might refer some drivers to take these courses."
She suggested that further research would be to look more closely at why some drivers who scored highly on the anger scales didn't see themselves as problem drivers and didn't enroll in the course.