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Are Men Better Than Apes When Road Rage Strikes?


For Immediate Release


A Conversation with Dr. Joyce Brothers


ROCKLEIGH, NJ -- Road rage is an increasly dangerous phenomenon. It's been estimated the number of incidents increases by 7% per year, yet surprisingly there are virtually no statistics to prove it's effect on vehicular accidents. Are we becoming more aggressive? Are there early signs of this behavior? Are the trigger mechanisms different for men than women? Can road rage be controlled? Volvo asked Dr. JoyceBrothers, an internationally recognized psychologist to answer those questions.


"Road rage has the potential to make tigers out of pussy cats. It's a sudden break in the driver's perception of what's happening, an unjustified over reaction to situation that in hindsight is a rather small personal space infraction", comments Dr. Brothers. " Man certainly has evolved over the eons, they've gone to the moon, built super computers, yet put them behind the wheel, under the right conditions and they are unable to cope."


"Men and women have different road rage triggers. Men perceive the vehicle as a safe zone, a metal protection shell that shields them from outside world. Much like an animal protects its domain, violating a personal space sets off something that turns otherwise normal, nice guy next door, person into a tiger. When this happens, men are at the same mental level as an ape - a being who protects his space, at all costs and without logical thought as to the consequences."


"Women, on the other hand, have lists. They like order and structure. Off to food shop, pick up dry cleaning, haul children from school to soccer to home. Their lists can be long and over ambitious. When they start running out of time, their list deteriorates and so does their ability to react logically to potentially dangerous driving situations."


"Road rage can be controlled. Not easily, but by recognizing what sets you off and then considering behavioral alternatives, one can encounter a dangerous situation and still remain in control. "


Dr. Joyce Brothers suggestions for controlling road rage:


1. Allow plenty of time for your trip. A 12-mile trip at 35 mph takes about 20 minutes. Same trip at 45 mph is 16 minutes. A saving 4 minutes or 2 stop lights. Speeding isn't worth the added aggravation.


2. Be considerate of others. The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) is a powerful mental stop and reconsider measure.


3. Don't stand on principle. You might be right, but deadly wrong.


4. If the situation gets tense, avoid eye contact. Apes understand that eye contact leads to confrontation, we should learn from them.


Men: A vehicle is a dangerous weapon. The law of physics is unforgiving - speed and mass can be lethal.


Women: Keep lists and appointments reasonable. If you can, prioritize your day's schedule and factor in delays beyond your control.

Road Rage - The Consequences And Cure


How should one handle rage? What are the consequences of letting it all hang out? What do we teach our children about anger and if we have a terrible temper, do we need professional help? If you'd like to compare your views with those of some experts, here's your chance.


1. Men and women tend to handle anger in different ways.


True False


2. Children should be taught that anger and rage are no-nos and that these are not acceptable feelings.


True False


3. In order for people to change their patterns of expressing temper, they need to seek professional help.


True False


4. Parents can't, and don't, pass on their anger and aggressive behavior to their children.


True False


5. Expressing anger by yelling, or simply letting it all hang out, diminishes it and is generally productive.


True False


6. When a young child has a temper tantrum, give him what he/she wants and explain it in detail later.


True False


7. Anger never serves a useful purpose.


True False


8 Humor is always the best release for anger and the best way to get back at the person causing the rage.


True False

Dr. Brothers answers:


1. True. Males are allowed much more freedom to express anger than females. Females learn from an early age that it isn't lady-like to explode or express anger directly. This causes many problems when these little girls mature into women.


2. False. Children should be taught that it's all right to feel angry and that this needn't be a denial of love. Both emotions can exist together. What they do need to be taught is how to control rage so that it isn't destructive to others, nor to themselves. They need to find constructive, productive channels.


3. False. This isn't always necessary. We can change and learn new patterns or behavior of our own if we're motivated. Often when we're angry, it helps merely to take time and count to ten...also try writing down feelings, before verbalizing them, record when you feel angry and what precipitates it. Analyze the results and try quietly talking and listening to others, rather than screaming.


4. False. They do. Children learn to be aggressive by imitating their role models, and, unfortunately, aggressive children turn into aggressive adults unless this pattern is broken. While there may be a link between hormones, environment, and some traits toward aggression may be inherited, environment plays a strong role.


5. False. This is a dangerous myth. It doesn't diminish, it increases the rage not only in the person who's angry, but also in everyone around him or her. This is counterproductive, as rage is highly contagious.


6. False. Temper tantrums should never be rewarded. If possible, reassure the child with hugs, if the youngster is old enough reassure through language, but explain that you may have to remove him or her briefly in order to protect the needs of others.


7. False. It does serve a useful purpose. It may serve as a warning to others, that they've gone too far and crossed certain boundaries. There are also many legitimate reasons to be angry.


8. False. Humor can be a wonderful release for anger and tension, but it can also be used as a mask and a sadistic means for a coward not to face the results of his or her own emotions. It can be highly productive or counter-productive, depending upon the way it's being used.


"If you answered six of these eight questions correctly, you're better informed than most on this issue" states Dr. Brothers.


Road rage is easy to detect, easy to prevent, and easy to control. Life is too short to let a moment of anger ruin everything.





Daniel Johnston


Volvo Cars of North America

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