Women drivers are more angry than men, according to science

Anyone who drives has probably suffered from road rage at some point.

But if you’re a woman, it might happen slightly more often as - according to new research - women drivers are angrier than men.

A study of 1,000 UK drivers by Hyundai Motor UK with an expert from Goldsmiths University London found that women are, on average, 12% angrier than men when they’re behind the wheel.

Researchers found that ancient ‘defence’ instincts from humans’ time as hunter-gatherers kicks in when we’re undertaken, shouted or beeped at, have to deal with a back-seat driver or when a fellow road user fails to indicate.

Patrick Fagan, behavioural psychologist from Goldsmiths, ‘sense tested’ the 1,000 drivers to see how sound, sight, smell, touch and taste provoke emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

Experiment - Patrick Fagan ‘sense-tested’ the 1,000 drivers (Pictures: Hyundai Motor UK Ltd)

The study found that in all test scenarios, women were more likely to respond with anger.

Fagan said: “Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism.”

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He said: “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.”

Mixed emotions - the two main emotions when driving are happiness and anger

According to the study, there are two dominant emotions when driving - happiness linked to the sense of freedom it can bring, and anger when we feel out of control.

When researchers looked at what makes us happy behind the wheel, 84% of people said “empty roads”, 78% said “the countryside” and 69% “the seaside”.

And more than half of Brits (54%) said what makes them really happy in the car is singing, and eight out of 10 people nearly always listen to something while driving. Pop and rock are the most popular genres (70% and 61% respectively) with Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody top of the driving charts.

Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai Motor UK’s President and CEO, added: “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.”