Individual difference factors in risky driving: The roles of anger/hostility, conscientiousness, and sensation-seeking

David C. Schwebel, Joan Severson, Karlene K. Ball, Matthew Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


Motor vehicle crashes claim the lives of more Americans than any other cause of injury. One factor long recognized as relevant to predicting dangerous driver behavior is the driver's personality. This study examines the independent and combined roles of three personality traits - sensation-seeking, conscientiousness, and anger/hostility - in predicting risky driving behavior. Seventy-three participants completed personality and driving history questionnaires, and also engaged in a virtual environment (VE) task designed to assess risk-taking driving behavior. Each facet of personality was correlated to risky driving behavior in independent univariate analyses. In multivariate analyses, sensation-seeking emerged as the best predictor of self-reported driving violations. Anger/hostility and the interactive effect of anger/hostility by sensation-seeking also emerged in a multivariate analysis predicting one measure of self-reported driving violations. No personality trait predicted risky driving in the VE in multivariate analyses. Results are discussed with respect to previous work in the field, challenges involved in measuring the constructs of interest, and implications to prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-810
Number of pages10
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Anger and hostility
  • Conscientiousness
  • Personality
  • Risky driving
  • Sensation-seeking
  • Virtual environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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