Patrick Fagan of ‘Goldsmiths University London’ has been experimenting on live human beings. According to a report published in Flea News, Fagan, who describes himself whimsically as a ‘behavioural psychologist’, has subjected 1000 drivers to facial coding, eye-tracking analysis, galvanic skin response tests and heart rate monitoring – to discover that women are more likely than men to get a bit worked up when driving.

Flea News claims in its report that Fagan’s experiments prove that ‘Road rage affects more women than men’ and that ‘women drivers are angrier than men’. Which they don’t exactly.

They do appear to show that the same irksome stimuli are around 12% more likely to p*ss lady drivers off than their gentlemen counterparts. They do not, however, overturn the general and well-founded perception that gentlemen are about 100% more likely to jump out of their vehicles angrily waving a tyre iron.

Basically what’s happened is that Fagan wangled a shedload of cash out of car makers Hyundai to hook a bunch of people up to all kinds of wires and electrodes to create the world’s very first ever ‘Driver Emotion Test’. For some reason, this seems to have involved seeing what emotional response drivers had to a variety of stimuli including “sound, sight, smell, touch and taste”.

Presumably this might – for example – have included combinations such as Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas, some idiot in a Peugeot speeding up and slowing down for no apparent reason, the rotting cabbage whiff of damp leaves lurking in the aircon, the discomfort of ill-fitting disco slacks, and the unrepeatable savour of Nice ’n’ Spicy NikNaks.

What Fagan found is that females got – for example – 14% angrier than men when undertaken or ‘beeped at’, and 13% angrier when someone didn’t indicate.

Basically, Fagan explains, it’s because women are a bit neurotic. It’s not their fault, he explains generously: it’s because when they were living in caves and their blokes were out doing important things like hunting, they used to get all over-sensitive to anything that might have threatened them and their “young” – which basically was a survival thing and enabled them to react quickly to the approach of – for example – sabre tooth tigers and shout really loud for their men to come back and protect them or whatever.

In fairness, Fagan wasn’t just establishing beyond reasonable doubt that women “score higher than men on the personality trait of neuroticism” he’s also somehow worked out that people like driving because it gives them a sense of freedom, that people like the countryside and the seaside (basically anything with a side in it), that men find it easier to talk while driving (which is a bit alarming – because we all know what happens when men try to multitask), that the thing that makes us happiest is singing in the car, and that Bat out of Hell is everybody’s favourite song.

Amazing what you can find out with a few wires and electrodes!



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