Research & reports

Title: Couples, contentious conversations, mobile telephone use and driving

Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Date uploaded: 26th October 2012
Date published/launched: May 2012

This paper reports an investigation into the socio-technical implications of maintaining a difficult conversation while driving.

Purchase
Studies have shown that the inappropriate use of in-vehicle technology may lead to hazardous disruption of driver performance. This paper reports an investigation into the socio-technical implications of maintaining a difficult conversation while driving.

20 romantically involved couples participated in a driving-simulator experiment. The participants engaged in emotionally difficult conversations while one partner drove. The contentious conversation topics were identified using a revealed differences protocol, requiring partners to discuss sources of ongoing disagreement in their relationship. The conversations were conducted either using handsfree telephone or with both parties present in the simulator.

Results indicate that the revealed differences tasks were subjectively viewed as emotionally more difficult than a control. Driver performance was found to be adversely effected for both longitudinal and lateral vehicle control. Performance was worst during contentious conversations with the partner present, suggesting the drivers may be better able to regulate driving task demands with the partner not in the vehicle during difficult discussions.

For more information contact:
Dr. Terry Lansdown
T: 0131 451 8246

Downloads and resources:
External links: