Sunday, September 14, 2008

Measuring emotions in traffic

ResearchBlogging.orgAUTHORS: Mesken, J.
CONFERENCE: Towards Safer Road Traffic in Southern Europe, 2002

ABSTRACT: In this paper, three categories of methods to measure emotions are reviewed and possible applications for traffic research are discussed. Of the three measurement categories - overt behaviour, physiological measures and self-reported behaviour - examples are given of past use of these measures in traffic research. Also, implications for further research are discussed. [Full text available here (pdf)]

SUMMARY: This paper discusses the measurement of driver emotion.

MY THOUGHTS: This paper discusses how very little is known about how to measure, and so understand, the emotions of the drivers. The interactions between emotion, motivation and action are discussed. Many subjects were covered but elements relating to driving anxiety, in brief, are:
* Emotions can negatively effect driving behaviors. Specifically: "anxiety narrows attentional focus." Driving is a complex task and overly narrowed focus can be dangerous.
* However, positive moods can be equally dangerous as they increase risk taking.
* Therefore it is important to measure both the emotions and the performance of the task (driving).
* There are various types of measurement that can be taken to appreciate the emotion of a driver, including: behavior, physiology and spoken reports. In general it is a good idea to take at least two measures and where possible more when trying to understand a driving situation.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: In many cases where driving anxiety is being treated the potential for impaired ability and so legitimate danger during driving seems to be overlooked, and there is a tendency to rely exclusively in verbal report as a measure. This report is a useful reminder to step back to try to capture more about the situation in order to understand it better.

Mesken, J. (2002). Measuring emotion in traffic ESF Congress: 'Towards Safer Road Traffic in Southern Europe'