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Title: Understanding how drivers learn to anticipate risk on the road: A laboratory experiment of affective anticipation of road hazards

Organisation: University of Strathclyde, School of Psychological Sciences and Health
Date uploaded: 25th April 2013
Date published/launched: January 2013

This study examines whether there is evidence that converging theories from the domains of risk and decision making, neuroscience, and psychology can improve our understanding of how drivers learn to appraise on-the-road hazards.

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This study examines whether there is evidence that converging theories from the domains of risk and decision making, neuroscience, and psychology can improve our understanding of how drivers learn to appraise on-the-road hazards.

Within the domain of decision making it is suggested that there are two distinct ways in which humans appraise risk: risk as feelings and risk as analysis. Meanwhile, current neurological theory, in the form of the Somatic Marker Hypothesis, supports the role of feelings and emotion as an evolved automated system of human risk appraisal that biases judgment and decision making.

This study used skin conductance responses (SCRs) to measure learner, novice and experienced drivers’ psycho-physiological responses to the development of driving hazards.

Key results
• Experienced drivers were twice as likely to produce an SCR to developing hazards as novice drivers and three times as likely when compared with learner drivers.

• These differences maintained significance when age, gender and exposure were controlled for.

• Further analysis revealed that novice drivers who had less than 1,000 miles driving experience had anticipatory physiological responses similar to learner drivers, whereas novices who had driven more than 1,000 miles had scores approaching those of experienced drivers.

• This demonstrated a learning curve mediated by driving experience supporting experiential learning as proposed within the Somatic Marker Hypothesis.

• A differentiation between cognitive and psycho-physiological responses was also found, supporting theory that distinguishes between conscious and non-conscious risk appraisal.

For more information contact:
Dr Steve Kelly

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