top of page
  • Selina Barker

Survey Says this Driving Habit is Psychopathic

A new study connects smartphone use to psychopathic tendencies, finding that psychopathy is a possible explanation for those who use their smartphone while driving. The study, conducted in Germany through collaboration between the University of Regensburg and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, found that “psychopathy is a relevant predictor” for those who commit traffic offenses.

"...psychopathy was a relevant predictor for committing a penalized traffic offense within the last 12 months."

People who use their smartphones while driving are the same people who are likely to use their smartphones so excessively that it negatively affects their social life, work, and/or schooling. This problematic use is linked to psychopathic behaviour patterns as well as three other problematic personality traits.

Let’s explore how using your phone while driving could be a symptom of deeper negative foibles.

Narcissus and Machiavelli

The study found three personality types are suitable indicators of a person who is likely to text while driving: psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism. These combine to create what is known in psychology as the “dark triad” of malevolent personality types.

People with one or more “dark triad” qualities may expect others to “make up” for their bad driving behaviours, without considering the abilities or feelings of other drivers. They either consider themselves above the rules of the road, or assume everyone is breaking the rules, and that they therefore have the right to do the same.

Narcissists crave appreciation, admiration, and attention, and expect to be treated better than those they perceive as socially below them. They may feel like they are “allowed” to text while driving, expecting special treatment for themselves that they think other people should not get.

"...both men and women with narcissism are more likely to react aggressively and vengefully towards perceived wrongdoings of others in traffic"

People who are Machiavellian lack empathy and have a cynical view of the world. Both of these traits, as well as psychopathy, are connected to heightened self-interest. “Narcissism and psychopathy have been linked to problematic driving behavior” beyond cell-phone use as well.

People with these characteristics believe other drivers should shoulder the responsibility of accommodating their bad driving behaviour because either they don’t care about inconveniencing or endangering others, or they believe themselves in a special class above other drivers.

You Aren’t Missing Out

Problematic cellphone use is also connected to the fear of missing out (FOMO). Most common among young men, FOMO makes people feel like they may be missing out on an event or experience from which others are benefitting, tempting them to be constantly connected through a smartphone.

"In a student survey with participants aged 18–29, about 90% reported that they sometimes text while driving"

People with FOMO feel disconnected while driving; as they focus on one task they think others are engaged in a more rewarding experience out of which they are being left, causing them to check their phones to ensure nothing is happening without their knowledge. “The feeling of missing out on rewarding experiences is multiplied by the permanent availability of insights on other people’s adventures through platforms like Instagram.”

Just Drive

Distracted driving is a rising issue for everyone.

“[The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] estimates that distracted driving killed over 3,500 people in the US in 2021, though they say the real number is likely much higher.” 

Checking a phone while driving is a major distraction, a dangerous habit, and may even be psychopathic in nature. Play it safe by silencing or powering down your phone when you’re in the car and placing it out of your view.

Read the original article from the New York Post


bottom of page