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Description: Ok you be the psychologist here! My home town, Calgary, has experienced an astonishing and worrying number of road rage incidents over the last week or so (described in the article linked below). So, what is going on? Additional data? A police spokesman say he has never seen this much road rage in his 17 years on the job and notes as well that domestic violence calls are up 70%! A counseling center manager (who also runs a domestic violence program) says there has been a serious increase in rates of stress and anxiety as result of social change in Calgary. So, psychologically, what do you think is going on? What can and should we do about it?

Source: Fortney: Is road rage in Calgary a downturn effect? Valerie Fortney, Calgary Herald.

Date: December 22, 2016

Photo Credit:  Calgary Herald

Links:  Article Link —

In Psychology, the impression we give is that we are primarily interested in why individuals do what they do. From that perspective, road rage incidents are done by individuals behaving badly or making bad decisions (not entirely untrue!). However, psychology also benefits from input from other research disciplines such as Sociology that look at the impact of large scale social forces on individual wellbeing, or the lack thereof, and behaviour. The downturn in the economy associated with the drop in oil process has hit the Calgary economy hard. There are a great many people unemployed or under employed and facing a Christmas season that is not likely to be what they are used to. That by itself is NOT an excuse but it might be starting point for hypothesizing about what is going on. Beyond Calgary we might also see the impact of more global forces in things like the Trump victory in the United States.  So, what sort of research data do we need to gather to understand this bump in road rage from a psychological perspective? What sort of cross-discipline research investigation might help us get a handle on this? What sorts of things should we do to address this change in (non- or anti-) social behaviour.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of psychological variables might be at play in incidents of road rage??
  2. What sorts of sociological factors should psychologists think about in trying to address this question??
  3. What sort of interventions might psychology suggest to deal with road rage in Calgary?

References (Read Further):

Rathbone, D. B., & Huckabee, J. C. (1999). Controlling road rage: A literature review and pilot study.

Sullman, M. J. (2015). The expression of anger on the road. Safety science, 72, 153-159.

Kendrick, M. (2016). Road Rage Unleashed. Angelo State University Social Sciences Research Journal, 2(2).

Hammershoj, L. G. (2016, July). Desperate and Raging Minds: The Negative Consequences of Individualization?. In Third ISA Forum of Sociology (July 10-14, 2016). Isaconf.