Experiment suggests bad drivers are a turn off

12.00 | 27 August 2015 | | 2 comments

The results of a scientific experiment by the IAM suggest that four in five women and nearly half of men are ‘physically turned off’ by bad driving.

The experiment has led the IAM to conclude that bad driving ‘significantly reduces levels of attractiveness in potential partners’, with women finding it particularly off-putting. Overall, the experiment found bad drivers to be 50% less attractive those with ‘good skills’.

The IAM teamed up with behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings for the study. Candidates were shown videos of good and bad driving while being tested for their levels of attraction towards the driver using pulse rate, pupil dilation, blink rate and body language.

84% of female participants reported more negative feelings towards a driver after experiencing their incompetence on the road. ‘Aggressive and confrontational’ manoeuvres including road rage, illegal overtaking and tailgating were found to be most unattractive to women.

In contrast, reactions in men were found to be less significant, with just over a quarter (28%) reporting a dislike for the driver after seeing them behind the wheel.

Body language indicators showed that for men, instead of stress, frustration was the overwhelming response. Candidates were found to frown, become agitated and shift position as they watched videos of parking, turning the car around or other examples of distracted or preoccupied behaviours.

Jo Hemmings said: “There is no doubt that across the board most candidates, and nearly all of the women, found bad driving to be a turn-off.

“However, it’s interesting to look at the reactions of different genders. Some male reactions to bad driving included laughter and amusement, indicating that men have a less mature emotional response to bad driving than women who instead furrowed their brows and shook their heads.

“Overall the experiment supports the hypothesis that bad driving elicits strong instinctive responses, with a correlated effect on levels of desire. However, it’s evident that women have a stronger negative reaction to bad driving than men, and find bad drivers considerably less attractive as a result.”

The experiment follows a survey by the IAM which uncovered bad driving as one of the UK’s biggest first date turn-offs. Road rage was the worst ‘first-date faux pas’ for almost half (46%) of respondents, while a similar number said texting at the wheel left them wanting to end a date then and there.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive, said: “The results from the survey piqued our interest, so we enlisted Jo and a team of scientists to put the science behind the theory.

“Bad driving not only has an impact on the safety of our roads, but can also affect your relationships. Being able to manoeuvre properly and drive carefully should be much higher up on people’s priorities.”

Click here to view a brief video about the experiment.



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    It may indeed be cod science, but if a few people read it and are subconsciously influenced to drive more responsibly on a first date with the result that a death or serious injury is prevented, then is it such a bad thing? Surveys such as this will have some cumulative effect over time when it comes to positively changing behaviour, so why knock them?

    David, Suffolk
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    There seems to be a never-ending stream of reports like this, whose main purpose is to obtain free advertising. I know this is the silly season with not much happening but even so…To call this a scientific experiment is to debase science.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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