Perceptions of the average driver's speed compared to perceived driver safety and driving skill.

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Authors
Walton, D.
Bathurst, J.
Issue Date
1998
Type
Working Paper
Language
en
Keywords
Self-enhancement bias , Driver attitudes , Safety perception , Skill perception , Speed perception , Downward Comparison Theory
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Abstract
This study investigates the self-enhancement bias in driver attitudes, the finding that drivers rate themselves better than the average driver on safety and skill perceptions (Svenson, 1978, 1981; McCormick, Walkey & Green, 1986). A sample of 86 New Zealand drivers were asked their perceptions of their own and others' speeds in two conditions, 50 km/h and 100 km/h. The results established the self-enhancement bias for speed and safety, but not skill. Between 85% and 90% of drivers claimed to drive slower than the 'average driver.' A new methodological technique derived from Harr? and Gillett (1994) was used to investigate the direction of the self-enhancement bias. The results support Downward Comparison Theory (Wills, 1981) because drivers consider other drivers negatively, rather than exaggerating their self-perceptions.
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Walton, D., & Bathurst, J. (1998). Perceptions of the average driver's speed compared to perceived driver safety and driving skill (Working Papers No. 1-98). Lower Hutt, New Zealand: The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.
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