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Does a threat appeal moderate reckless driving? A terror management theory perspective

Authors
Journal
Accident Analysis & Prevention
0001-4575
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
32
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0001-4575(99)00042-1
Keywords
  • Terror Management Theory
  • Self Esteem
  • Road Trauma Film
  • Driving Simulator
  • Driving Speed

Abstract

Abstract A series of two studies examined the effects of threat appeals on reckless driving from a terror management theory perspective. In both studies, all the participants ( N=109) reported on the relevance of driving to their self-esteem, and, then, half of them were exposed to a road trauma film and the remaining to a neutral film. In Study 1, the dependent variable was the self-report of intentions to drive recklessly in hypothetical scenarios. In Study 2, the dependent variable was actual behavior (driving speed) in a driving simulator. Findings indicated that a road trauma film led to less reported intentions of reckless driving, but to higher driving speed than a neutral film. These effects were only found among participants who perceived driving as relevant to their self-esteem. The discussion emphasized the self-enhancing mechanisms proposed by the terror management theory.

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