Association of driving behavior with implicit and explicit measures of driving attitudes

Abstract: The Theory of Planned Behavior claims that attitude is a strong predictor of the behavior actually performed by individuals, and it has proven to be a valid theoretical framework for research in driving behavior. The measurement of attitudes towards driving is routinely performed through self-report measures, whose scores, however, can be biased by social desirability, thus calling for measurement methods capable of addressing this issue. The aim of this study was to test the association of explicit and implicit measures of attitudes towards driving and speeding with actual speeding behavior, and with self-reported past driving behavior. Forty-six participants completed a battery of explicit driving self-report measures (Driver Behavior Questionnaire, Dula Dangerous Driving Index and Multidimensional Traffic Locus of Control, past driving behaviors), performed the Italian version of a speed-related implicit association task (IAT, Hatfield et al., 2008) designed to detect the strength of a person’s automatic association of speeding and safe driving with positive and negative concepts, and performed a simulated driving task. Results showed that IAT was not significantly correlated with self report measures. Nevertheless, both implicit and explicit measures were consistently and significantly associated with speeding behavior at the simulator and with having never been fined for speeding. Regression analyses revealed that, after gender and age effects had been ruled out, both IAT and self-report measures of risky driving and traffic violations were still significant predictors of simulated driving behavior. The results of this study suggest that IAT can be a useful add-on to self-report measures for the assessment of attitudes toward speeding.

Keywords: speeding, simulator, attitude, implicit association test