The behavioral and cognitive characteristics of dangerous drivers differ significantly from those of safe drivers. However, differences in emotional information processing have seldom been investigated. Previous studies have revealed that drivers with higher anger/anxiety trait scores are more likely to be involved in crashes and that individuals with higher anger traits exhibit stronger negativity biases when processing emotions compared with control groups. However, researchers have not explored the relationship between emotional information processing and driving behavior. In this study, we examined the emotional information processing differences between dangerous drivers and safe drivers. Thirty-eight non-professional drivers were divided into two groups according to the penalty points that they had accrued for traffic violations: 15 drivers with 6 or more points were included in the dangerous driver group, and 23 drivers with 3 or fewer points were included in the safe driver group. The emotional Stroop task was used to measure negativity biases, and both behavioral and electroencephalograph data were recorded. The behavioral results revealed stronger negativity biases in the dangerous drivers than in the safe drivers. The bias score was correlated with self-reported dangerous driving behavior. Drivers with strong negativity biases reported having been involved in mores crashes compared with the less-biased drivers. The event-related potentials (ERPs) revealed that the dangerous drivers exhibited reduced P3 components when responding to negative stimuli, suggesting decreased inhibitory control of information that is task-irrelevant but emotionally salient. The influence of negativity bias provides one possible explanation of the effects of individual differences on dangerous driving behavior and traffic crashes.
Chai, J., Qu, W., Sun, X., Zhang, K., & Ge, Y. (2016). Negativity bias in dangerous drivers. PLoS ONE, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147083