Psych 141 Paper

Submitted By Ebronkhurst
Words: 1370
Pages: 6

Psychology 41

Student Independent Project For the routine long distance commuter in today’s society, one of the more common problems that most people encounter is that of road rage. Although not everyone succumbs to these aggressive compulsions that revolve around freeway driving, it is extremely difficult to stay composed for even the tamest of individuals. Take the subject of our study, Joe, for example. Joe is a timid and, for the most part, very calm individual who unfortunately exhibits a transformation upon entering any vehicle. Joe suffers from uncontrollable road rage to the point he is putting himself and others on the road at risk on a daily basis due to his aggressive mental state. Despite getting into trouble with the law for speeding and driving recklessly, Joe still engages in this behavior which constantly baffles those that know him as an individual. In this study, an examination of his behavior will be conducted using several contemporary psychological perspectives to explain Joe’s problem with experiencing road rage. From the Behavioral perspective, Joe’s aggression and road rage can be explained in several different ways. Despite being a calm individual normally, behavior can suddenly change as it comes under the control of different environments he might be placed in and the external factors that are involved. Classical conditioning may be involved where negative or frustrating situations on the road may lead Joe to experience a stimulus generalization, automatically getting more aggressive as soon as he enters the vehicle. Joe may like to listen to music that might cause his aggression to increase along with experiencing potential traffic jams or unnecessary stoppages that might trigger his aggression. He may also be modeling after an individual such as his father or another figure he saw as a child who portrayed acts of road rage. Another explanation could be that Joe has had certain consequences that act as reinforcement to his behavior. In the past, Joe may have been cut off by another individual which initiated his aggressive behavior (honking, tailing the car, obscene gestures), leading to the two drivers pulling over and arguing or having some confrontation. The attention and/or adrenaline that were maintained may act as reinforcement to Joe’s aggression on the road. And lastly, operant conditioning involved could show that the act of driving overly aggressive and reckless repeatedly could be associated with arriving to work or any given location promptly which would reinforce Joe to initiate this behavior regardless of repercussions. Moving on from a Behavioral perspective, Joe’s road rage can be explained from the Humanistic approach. For Joe, there is an apparent difference in how the ideal self and real self is perceived. Joe’s self-image of his himself is most likely that he is a calm, nice individual who rarely engages in confrontations which can appear as boring to Joe. His ideal self, however, transforms as he enters his vehicle where he becomes an aggressive, competitive male, tackling on an alpha mentality where he exhibits those qualities he normally may lack. It is through this he can get the sense of self-actualization, maximizing his potential as an individual and achieving the goal of becoming the Joe he believes he can be. It is very likely Joe has a self-concept that portrays himself as a great driver since he seldom gets in accidents and may not have gotten a traffic citation in a few months, so any acts of rage could be overlooked. Joe doesn’t believe that he has a real uncontrollable aggression problem; it is the other bad drivers on the road that stimulate any aggression which he feels compelled to act upon. He understands that he is running behind to make it to a meeting or work on time and he has the options of either staying calm/doing what is perceived as right or allowing himself to lose control. Aside from Behavioral and Humanistic