• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

See me, hear me, fear me

You can't get hugged by nuclear arms -- now get that piece of crap out of my way! I mean right now!!!

Watch out for cars with bumper stickers.

That's the surprising conclusion of a recent study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko. Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other "territorial markers" not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage -- by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.

It does not seem to matter whether the messages on the stickers are about peace and love -- "Visualize World Peace," "My Kid Is an Honor Student" -- or angry and in your face -- "Don't Mess With Texas," "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student."

Hey, you clown! This ain't funny! Aggressive driving might be responsible for up to two-thirds of all U.S. traffic accidents that involve injuries.

Szlemko and his colleagues at Fort Collins found that people who personalize their cars acknowledge that they are aggressive drivers, but usually do not realize that they are reporting much higher levels of aggression than people whose cars do not have visible markers on their vehicles.

Drivers who do not personalize their cars get angry, too, Szlemko and his colleagues concluded in a paper they recently published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, but they don't act out their anger. They fume, mentally call the other driver a jerk, and move on.

This shouldn't be surprising, I suppose. It's all about "me, me, me." People with a lot of bumper stickers believe every casual stranger should be deeply impressed with their pithy wisdom. It's only natural that the same people also believe "right of way" means "right to have it my way."

Posted in: Current Affairs


Mon, 06/16/2008 - 5:30pm

I always get just a little bit angrier when the jerk who isn't driving right happens to have a bumper sticker or other marking with which I disagree.

Bob G.
Mon, 06/16/2008 - 6:20pm

No problem here...I never DID like having bumper stickers on my vehicles (neither did my Dad...must be a genetic thing)
...Although I DO have a black BATMAN symbol at the bottom of the rear hatch glass...
Now THAT oughta clue people in, eh?



Tue, 06/17/2008 - 1:20pm

Oh yeah -- bumper stickers are the new crazy!
Bring it!