Extensive research finds women are angrier drivers than men

We’ve probably all been guilty of road rage at some point in our lives, encouraging other road users to sell a car and get a bus pass instead due to their distinct lack of motoring ability… But who are the angriest drivers out there?

Extensive research has been conducted by Hyundai Motor UK to investigate the emotions, attitudes and habits of drivers in the UK – and they found that women are angrier drivers than their male counterparts!

The study of 1,000 UK drivers - who were wired up and observed by a host of camera's and electric testing equipment - revealed that women are in fact, on average, 12% angrier than men whilst they are behind the wheel.

The researchers found that driving trigged ancient ‘defence’ instincts stemming from when humans were hunter-gatherers. These traits kicked in during the test when women were beeped at, shouted at or undertaken, had to deal with a back-seat driver (women were 14% angrier) or were faced with a driver who failed to indicate (women were 13% angrier).

In all of the different test scenarios, women were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers.

The experiment was conducted by Patrick Fagan, a behavioural psychologist from Goldsmiths, University of London. He ‘sense tested’ the 1,000 drivers to see how sight, sound, smell, touch and taste trigger emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

Two dominant emotions were found from this study: happiness at the sense of freedom when driving, and anger when drivers felt out of control. There were also a number of other key findings, which included:

  • 54% said singing in the car was something which made them really happy

  • Eight out of 10 people nearly always listen to music when driving, with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell topping the most popular list. Pop music (70%) and rock (61%) are the most popular music genres

  • When researchers looked into what makes us happy behind the wheel, 84% said empty roads, 78% said the countryside and 69% said the seaside.

  • Just under a third (29%) of men said they find it easier to have a conversation in the car. 14% added that talking makes them a better driver.

  • The main reasons for our continued love for driving are the freedom is gives us (51%), mobility (19%) and independence (10%).


Fagan explained the results and why women are angrier drivers, saying: "Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism.

“Evolutionary theory suggests our early female ancestors had to develop an acute sense of danger for anything that threatened them and their young if their cave was undefended while men were out hunting.

“That 'early warning system' instinct is still relevant today, and women drivers tend to be more sensitive to negative stimuli, so get angry and frustrated quicker."

Hyundai Motor UK’s President and CEO also had his say on the results, commenting: "We are constantly striving to better understand what impacts people's behaviour when they are driving and this research has certainly revealed some interesting, and somewhat surprising results. By examining drivers' emotions our aim is to help them get a better drive both today and in the future."

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Photo courtesy of State Farm on Flickr, under Creative Commons