Home> Pedestrians > Psychology  

Pedestrian Psychology and Safety | Drivers Against Pedestrians | Pedestrian Rage | Bicycling and Motorcycling | Safe Routes Program  |

oogle

       

 

 

 



             

 

Pedestrian Psychology and Safety

Sidewalk Rage / Pedestrian Rage

 

Compiled and assembled by Dr. Leon James


Did you know these facts?

  • Over one million pedestrians were killed or injured in the US in 1995, according to DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics at: http://www.bts.gov/
  • In 1994, 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities were older people.
  • Males accounted for 67 percent of total fatalities, 68 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
  • In 1994, there were 5,472 pedestrian fatalities that represented 13 percent of total fatalities.
  • On average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every 96 minutes.
  • More than one-third of children between 5 and 9 years old killed in motor vehicle crashes were pedestrians.
  • Nearly 100,000 pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States, with a majority of these accidents taking place in urban areas.

Even though there are fewer drivers on U.S. roads at night, the risk of death in a traffic accident more than doubles when darkness falls, the government's national accident database shows. In 1996, there were more than 18,000 drivers or passengers killed in nighttime car crashes. About 3,500 pedestrians and 368 bicyclists also were killed. See original story.

While the goal every time someone gets in a car is to keep an eye on the road and pay attention to everything around you; pedestrians, other drivers and every day distractions, being a vigilant driver can sometimes be a difficult task. Those distractions, as well as careless driving are what amount to so many traffic accidents and fatalities. Families all across the U.S. are affected by these accidents on a daily basis. Staying alert is all a driver needs to do when on the road. Making it home safe puts less burden on families and can be the difference between sending out save the date cards or placing an obituary in the paper. Knowing different state laws when traveling can be a good habit to get into and will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable driving experience.

 

Facts from government agencies

In 1999, 4,906 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States — a decrease of 25 percent from the 6,556 pedestrians killed in 1989.

On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 107 minutes.

There were 85,000 pedestrians injured in traffic crashes in 1999.

On average, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic crash every 6 minutes.

In 1999, almost one-fourth (24 percent) of all children between the ages of 5 and 9 years who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.

Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of all traffic fatalities under age 16 were pedestrians, and 7 percent of all the people under age 16 who were injured in traffic crashes were pedestrians.

Older pedestrians (ages 70+) accounted for 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities and 6 percent of all pedestrians injured. The death rate for this group, both males and females, was 3.49 per 100,000 population — higher than for any other age group.

Table 1. Pedestrians Killed and Injured by Age Group, 1999

 

 

80,000 pedestrians injured


"About 80,000 pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle crashes annually in this country and, during the 1990s, 5,000 to 6,000 pedestrians have died each year.

Based on population, children younger than age 16 are most likely to be struck by motor vehicles. Pedestrians ages 10-15 have the highest nonfatal injury rates. Elderly pedestrians, though less frequently struck than children, are more likely to die after being struck. The pedestrian death rate per capita among people age 65 and older has decreased since 1950, but this age group still has the highest pedestrian death rates. Starting at age 65, the rate is nearly twice as high as it is for people younger than 65. Males are more likely than females to be in pedestrian collisions. Males constitute about 70 percent of pedestrian deaths each year.

A substantial number of pedestrian injuries occur at intersections. About 39 percent of nonfatal injuries and 18 percent of fatal injuries to pedestrians occur in collisions with motor vehicles at intersections. In urban areas, the proportion of pedestrian injuries at intersections is greater than in nonurban areas. An examination of fatal pedestrian crashes in four U.S. cities found 40 percent of those involving vehicles other than large trucks happened at intersections, and 51 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes involving large trucks occurred at intersections. A substantial number of urban pedestrian crashes involve turning vehicles, particularly left-turning vehicles.

Most pedestrians are struck by the front of a passenger vehicle. What happens next depends on a number of factors, including vehicle speed and the relative heights of the pedestrian, vehicle front end, and bumper, but pedestrians usually are not "run over" by motor vehicles. The bumper usually strikes a child's upper leg, and the front edge of the hood strikes the torso. An adult may be struck in the lower leg by the bumper and in the upper leg by the front edge of the hood. At impact speeds slower than 10-12 mph, these may be the only contacts between the pedestrian and the vehicle but, at higher speeds, pedestrians usually slide over the front edge of the hood before their upper bodies strike the vehicle."

Original here

Home>Articles on Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

See also: Pedestrian Psychology and Safety | Drivers Against Pedestrians | Pedestrian Rage | Bicycling and Motorcycling | Safe Routes Program  |

oogle

       

 

 

 



             

 


Drivers Against Pedestrians


How to Change Attitudes
Checklist for Your Tendency to Pressure Pedestrians
Your Emotional Intelligence Towards Pedestrians

Leon James, Ph.D.
Diane Nahl, Ph.D.

www.DrDriving.org

See also: Pedestrian Traffic safety

 

The spectrum of road users in a community includes drivers, bicyclists, passengers, and pedestrians, all vying with each other for space and pacing rights. It's frightening to realize that drivers kill and injure pedestrians at an alarming rate:

·       In 1998, about 7,000 pedestrians were killed by vehicles.

·       About 100,000 pedestrians are injured by motor vehicles each year in the U.S.

·       Since 1990, about 70,000 pedestrians have been killed and 700,000 were injured.

·       The U.S. pedestrian death rate is 2 people killed for every 100,000.

·       Pedestrians ages 10-15 have the highest nonfatal injury rates.

·       Elderly pedestrians are more likely to die after being struck.

·       Men constitute about 70 percent of annual pedestrian deaths.

·       About 18 percent of fatal injuries 39 percent of nonfatal injuries to pedestrians occur at intersections.

 


Across California more than 1,000 crosswalks have disappeared in recent years. Traffic engineers claim that crosswalk lines sometimes lull pedestrians into a false sense of security.4 New studies indicate that crosswalks in the middle of a block and at intersections without stop signs or traffic lights often encourage pedestrians to drop their guard and step in front of speeding vehicles. Officials estimate that when a pedestrian is hit, 75 percent of the time the pedestrian is at fault. Safety experts point to these common emotionally unintelligent pedestrian behaviors:

·       Looking down when stepping into a marked crosswalk;

·       Looking up only after barging into the street;

·       Looking down while proceeding through a marked crosswalk;

·       Proceeding into the intersection too late (Yellow light or Don’t Walk sign);

·       Looking at the nearest car but ignoring approaching cars in the second or third lanes that are less visible;

·       Failing to monitor the speed of an approaching car, assuming the driver will see the walker;

·       Walking while impaired (drugs, alcohol, medication, rage, fatigue);

·       Walking in dim light conditions (dusk, night, daybreak) wearing non-reflective clothing, assuming drivers can see walkers.


Pedestrians have the right of way when they enter either a marked crosswalk or an intersection with no white lines, but if they don't allow cars enough time to stop drivers are more likely to injure them. One pedestrian complained about drivers:

They use their cars almost as weapons and get mad at me when I'm crossing with the walk signal on. I'm legally in the right, but I could be legally dead. (Older woman)

and a cab driver agrees:

Pedestrians? They take their lives in their own hands. They're crazy to walk in this city because we're out to get 'em. It's Fahrenheit 451 time around here. Yeah, cab drivers have no use for pedestrians. (Middle aged man)

Anyone who's been in a major city has experienced the aggressive attitude of many drivers toward people on foot. The driver sees someone in a crosswalk, speeds up fast and slams to a halt on the heels of the person. Sound familiar?  Pedestrians are threatened daily in cities by drivers who use aggressive tactics to force walkers to the curb:

I see them crossing on campus. Of course they cross all over the road as if it's a walkway or a mall instead of a street with cars passing through. I hate them. I disapprove of their taking the right to block me. I wish something bad would happen to them. This happens everyday, so I have experience dealing with them. They tend to poke along, so I drive up fast and as close as I can to them to make them hurry up. You should see how they scurry then. (Young woman)


This is the "me vs. them" mentality toward pedestrians. Many motorists don't mind routinely using their vehicle to intimidate defenseless people on foot. Drivers justify their road rage against pedestrians by accusing them in their minds of walking too slow, as if they didn't care that they're blocking the vehicle's progress. In short, pedestrians are just in their way:

Now I see a stop sign ahead but I'm not going to stop completely because I'm late. I'll just inch forward to make him go quicker. He could walk faster to be more considerate. (Older woman)

If we behaved this way towards people we know we would be regarded as self-centered and selfish, and many would avoid us. But in the prevailing culture of disrespect on the road, coercive driving behavior is considered normal. Drivers who are fully tolerant and respectful of pedestrians exist, not by birth or culture but as a result of training their traffic emotions.


By law, the pedestrian's safety takes precedence over the motorist's desire to get someplace. Law and logic dictate that the people on foot must receive preferential treatment even when they jaywalk. And it's not up to drivers to make pedestrians do the right thing. Nor is it up to pedestrians to make drivers behave. Yet many drivers don't hesitate to herd pedestrians, or to use their car like a cutting horse to place pedestrians where the driver wants them.


The driver's questionable reasoning is: You're invading my driving space, my domain where I'm in charge of what happens, my car is bigger than you, so I can make you behave. But this is a fantasy. Motorists aren't really in charge of the streets, and they have certain legal responsibilities toward pedestrians, to protect their safety and to give them the right of way. If you unthinkingly engage in aggressive emotions and acts against pedestrians, you're at risk of generalizing this negativity to co-workers, family members, and pets.

Changing Attitudes Toward Pedestrians

If drivers are territorial about the roads, pedestrians see things differently and they too are prone to road rage. When motorists approach a crosswalk and cross the safety line, they have intruded into pedestrian territory. Pedestrians automatically interpret this invasion of space as a deliberate challenge to their rights and safety. Pedestrians who feel threatened by drivers may have thoughts of vengeance:

I noticed the feeling of fear, either for my own safety or the safety of another pedestrian, just prior to feelings of aggression toward drivers. I feel a need to retaliate and I do it mentally by cursing drivers and wishing bad things would happen to them. I also glare at them and give them dirty looks. After an incident it takes several hours for these aggressive feelings to subside. I'm surprised by how much hate I feel for drivers who try to intimidate me when I'm an innocent and delicate pedestrian. I get momentary satisfaction by getting even, but later I feel guilty and ashamed that I'm so hostile when I believe in being peaceful. (Older man).


Even if the extremes are mostly mental and emotional, everyone is capable of venting hostility inwardly and overtly. It can be terrifying when this happens to well-meaning drivers who make unwitting mistakes:

After my doctor appointment I came slowly out of the parking garage. The drive is very steep and only flattens out on the sidewalk portion. There was another car exiting, so I had to stay on the steep part for a few seconds until he left. I thought he was leaving, so  I went up onto the sidewalk a little, but then he stopped again, so the sidewalk was only about two feet wide between our cars. It wouldn't have mattered, except for the fact that an odd looking man approached down the sidewalk and began touching the hood of my car as he walked by it. Then he turned to me and said something I couldn't hear, shaking his finger at me.
 

The car ahead of me left, and I waited for the weird pedestrian to pass by, but I was feeling scared that he might do something dangerous. He passed by and I began to move forward, but suddenly he came back, right into my path. I braked hard and he continued to move in front of my car with something in his hand. I knew he couldn't hear me, but I automatically said, "Be careful now." He raised his hand and threw something at me. A big green ball hit my windshield, right in my face, blocking my view for a second. I decided I had to escape, so I swerved around him and left quickly. My heart was pounding and my head throbbed. I felt lucky that he hadn't thrown a rock or tried to get into my car. It took me an hour to get over the fear, and now I'll worry about mean things happening while I'm in the car.

 

I thought about it later, trying to decide what I could've done to avoid that confrontation. I could've backed down the ramp to accommodate him. He might have appreciated that, been appeased. I thought of it at the time, but decided it was too much trouble, but maybe I was wrong. It's a lot more trouble to experience that confrontation and its aftermath. I could've been more helpful and considerate of the person walking. (Middle aged woman)

 
It's easy to feel challenged in either the driver or the pedestrian role because the same emotions are evoked in both roles by the basic emotional intelligence issues they contain:

·       Who has the right of way (pedestrians always do by law)

·       What distance to keep away from each other (drivers: avoid crowding pedestrians; pedestrians: do not dart between cars or touch them)

·       How to handle interactions appropriately (driver and pedestrian both can avoid showing hostile faces or gestures of impatience and displeasure)


Drivers who examine carefully how they relate to pedestrians often discover that they hold many unfavorable attitudes. Working with many drivers has proved to us that people have the capacity to become compassionate drivers and that altruism on the road exists in many forms:

There's a pedestrian and she looks like she's a jogger, dressed like that. I better speed up faster so as not to slow her down. I wonder what my exhaust smells like to her and whether she's going to get a whiff that might choke her or make her cough. Yeah, I worry about that. How do I know how much I stink and what do I do about it? I suppose most cars don't, or do they? I'll need to check my car for that. I'll smell it when I get home. (Middle aged woman)

Practicing small kindnesses brings many benefits to you and to pedestrians.


Checklist: Your Tendency to Pressure Pedestrians

Aggressive drivers have many excuses for pressuring pedestrians. Many of the aggressive strategies we use are hidden from us until we monitor our traffic emotions. How many of these items describe you under certain conditions?

I put pressure on pedestrians when…

1.     _____ I'm in an unpleasant mood

2.     _____ I feel sick or in pain

3.     _____ I'm in a rush

4.     _____ I'm in unfamiliar territory

5.     _____ I'm daydreaming, not being alert

6.     _____ I don't feel like making an extra effort for them

7.     _____ I goof up sometimes (like seeing them too late), but I don't feel like being nice about it after

8.     _____ It's too early in the day and I'm trying to wake up

9.     _____ It's too late in the day and I'm trying to stay awake

10. _____ I'm prejudiced against pedestrians according to age, gender, size, appearance, or ethnic background

11. _____ I think that cars should always have the right of way, for obvious reasons of weight and speed

12.      _____ I like to see them cower, as they should, given my larger size


Checklist:  Emotional Intelligence Towards Pedestrians

The items are arranged in two emotional intelligence areas:

·       Knowledge and obedience to laws and safety principles, especially right-of-way issues (items 1 to 9)

·       ·Social responsibility towards pedestrians, including tolerance, caring, and friendliness (items 10 to 14)

1.  Pedestrians always have the right of way over cars.

Yes              No

2.  I'm happy to slow down for pedestrians and give them all the time they need to cross safely.

Yes              No

3.  Drivers should watch out for pedestrians no matter what.

Yes              No

4.  Drivers who have the green light at an intersection are still required to yield if a pedestrian jaywalks.

Yes              No

5.  I wait for individuals to pass before beginning a turn.

Yes              No

6.  I keep the car behind crosswalk lines.

Yes              No

7.  I slow down gradually when approaching pedestrians and drive away gradually after pedestrians pass.

Yes              No

8.  I stop a few feet away from walkers as they pass.

Yes              No

9.  I give pedestrians all the time they take to walk past the car before starting to go.

Yes              No

10.  I wear a pleasant expression when pedestrians can see it.

Yes              No

11.  If walkers wave in appreciation, I smile and wave back.

Yes              No

12.  If I make a mistake and threaten them unwittingly, I try to apologize.

Yes              No

13.  I avoid honking, yelling, and gesturing offensively near pedestrians.

Yes              No

14.  I don't retaliate if pedestrians do something rude or incorrect, or try to teach them a lesson.

Yes              No

Is it easier to answer Yes for the first 9 items and harder to say Yes to items 10-14? We know that pedestrians always have the right of way and are legally protected from drivers using the car to threaten them. But when we're sitting behind the wheel and driving under the influence of reptilian emotions, our logic wobbles and our memory clouds over.


Sample Pedestrian Self-Witnessing Report by a Student

This report has really helped me to focus on my pedestrian personality.  I just never thought about it.  I was walking around unconsciously, I guess.  Once in a while I would catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a window and I would be surprised.  Hey, that's me.  Do I look like this? kind of thing.  I observed myself under three conditions.  One was the hallway and staircase of the building where I take an evening class.  The second was our local shopping center.  And the third was at the beach.  I held my little cassette tape recorder in the hand and kept it under my chin.  I had draped a jacket over my arm and was holding a brown bag.  I tried to act like I was in a hurry and anxious to get somewhere.  I didn't see anybody show awareness that I was talking into the tape recorder from time to time.

Hallway and staircase:

Well, here I am again.  And here they are.  Just look at that crowd.  People everywhere.  C'mon folks, stay out of my please.  Look at those two standing at the bottom of the stairway.  C'mon you guys don't stand there.  Here I come.

 (Here I should add some explanations.  I was determined to pass through without slowing down even if I had to bump one of the guys.  I felt justified because they were doing something wrong.  They should not be blocking the way.  There was plenty room for them to step aside against the wall.  Why do they have to talk in the middle of the staircase entrance?  I felt outraged and prepared to do violence.)

OK, that was a bump.  My shoulder against his.  It felt like he gave way.  I put muscle into it.  I wanted him to feel a sharp pain for a few seconds.  I'm not going to look behind.  I'm not going to apologize.  In a way I'm glad.  I succeeded in teaching this individual a lesson without having to slow down and waste my time.  Watch out here comes some idiot person walking down the wrong side of the staircase.  I'm not gonna let him get away with it.

At this point I kept going up the staircase on the right hand side.  I squared my shoulders and looked down, waiting for the collision.  The other man tried to get down through my left side but two people were right behind me so he had to turn his shoulders vertically to squeeze through.  He could've made it if I had also turned my left shoulder slightly.  But I wouldn't.  So he bumped me, expecting me to yield under the force.  But I was ready.  I pumped my chest and shoulder muscle and held my arm tight.  The result was that he fell on top of the two guys that were right behind me.  They had to steady themselves against the handrail in order not to go tumbling all the way down.  Me I just kept going without looking back.  There was an evil little smile of satisfaction on my face.

Shopping Mall:

(This time I was not just acting like I'm in a hurry.  I was.  I stayed too long at the coffee shop.  I could've left a few minutes earlier but I kept not leaving.  Just looking at all the people doing basically nothing.)

Damn.  Damn.  Damn.  All these people are crowding in here.  I can't understand why they have to be here at this hour.  Usually this hour there is hardly anybody.  Excuse me.  Excuse me.  I'm sorry.  Excuse me.  I can't stand it how slow they are moving.  Look at that weird looking guy.  Strange hair.  Wow, look at that chick.  I hate people who walk so slow.  I hate people who stand in the way.  Excuse me.  They act like I don't exist.  Excuse me.  Oh no, I hate tourists who walk shoulder to shoulder three at a time.  Excuse me can I go by please.  Hello, excuse me.

Look at this couple coming at me on the wrong side of the sidewalk.  Tourists.  Don't they know you're supposed to walk on the right hand side.  Why are they so stupid?  Maybe in their own country they walk on the left, but here you're supposed to walk on the right you idiots.  They should get lessons in walking when they come into the country.  I'm not going to pass them on the left.  I just can't do that.  They've got to learn that in this place we walk on the right and we don't just block a public walkway.  Damn.

 To explain what happened.  The couple just kept coming at me expecting me to pass them on my left.  There was plenty of room.  So when we came up face to face I had to stop, and they had to stop.  They both smiled and started laughing and talking in an agitated way.  Of course I didn't know what they were jabbering about.  Finally I stepped to my left and started walking again.  I felt stupid and embarrassed.  Why didn't I just go the left to begin with.  Why did I have to make a big scene with them.  Well, I wasn't happy with my pedestrian personality.)


Home>Articles on Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

See also: Pedestrian Psychology and Safety | Drivers Against Pedestrians | Pedestrian Rage | Bicycling and Motorcycling | Safe Routes Program  |

oogle

       

 

 

 



             

 


Get yourself a DrDriving's PASS

by Dr. Leon James

PEDESTRIAN AGGRESSIVENESS SYNDROME SCALE (PASS)

DrDriving's research shows that the pedestrian aggressiveness syndrome is made of the following 15 pedestrian behaviors. This Scale can indicate how aggressive you are as a pedestrian and what type of pedestrian personality makeover you need. Ask yourself how many of these bad pedestrian behaviors apply to you on a regular basis.

   1.  feeling stress and impatience when walking in a crowded area (crosswalk, staircase, mall, store, airport, street, beach, park, etc.)
   2.  having denigrating thoughts about other pedestrians
   3.  acting in a hostile manner (staring, presenting a mean face, moving faster or closer than expected)z
   4.  walking much faster than the rest of the people
   5.  not yielding when it's the polite thing to do (insisting on going first)
   6.  walking on the left of a crowded passageway where most pedestrians walk on the right
   7.  muttering at other pedestrians
   8.  bumping into others
   9.  not apologizing when expected (after bumping by accident or coming very close in attempting to pass)
  10.  making insulting gestures
  11.  hogging or blocking the passageway, acting uncaring or unaware
  12. walking by a slower moving pedestrian and cutting back too soon (feels hostile or rude)
  13. expressing pedestrian rage against a driver (like insulting or throwing something)
  14. feeling enraged at other pedestrians and enjoying thoughts of violence
  15. feeling competitive with other pedestrians

 

These 15 bad behaviors define the pedestrian aggressiveness syndrome. They are all significantly intercorrelated. This means that if you do one of them regularly, you will also do many of the other 14 on a regular basis. You need a pedestrian personality overhaul--see above.

=======

 

 The Psychology of Sidewalk Rage:
A Community Crisis in the Making


 2010

Dr. Leon James (“DrDriving”), Professor of Psychology licujames@gmail.com

and Dr. Diane Nahl, Professor of Information Science

University of Hawaii

 

 

Walking is not just getting from one place to another. A pedestrian does not just move through physical space, but at the same time through social space and mental space. Social space maps out normative paths, selecting some physical motion as allowable, and others as not allowable. Walkers suddenly stop as they seem mesmerized by their tiny mobile device. They are violating normative paths allowing themselves to compel nearby pedestrians in both directions to negotiate their way around the physical block.

 

These walkers are now navigating in mental space as they strive to avoid embarrassing and sometimes painful collisions with each other. Their mental space tends to be in a negative environment filled with dark clouds and screeching owls. Their mental space is now populated with screaming rageful thoughts portraying butchering fantasies. These inner realities break out into physical space where they are portrayed as verbal exclamations of annoyance, derogation and punishment.

 

Walking around with intolerance and disapproval produces emotional depression and moral corruption. The more negative are my mental spaces as a walker, the more stressful the walk and consequently, the more unhealthy. Although I have seen no evidence of research it is my opinion that the habit of rageful walking has become a major mental health hazard, and consequently, a major hazard on our physical health.

 

Today more people are expressing a variety of rageful behavior both in public, like road rage and air rage, and in private, like computer rage and office rage. My definition for sidewalk rage is the following:

Sidewalk rage (also called pedestrian rage or pavement rage) refers to the experience of rageful emotions against other pedestrians and road users. There are two types of pedestrian rage—active and passive.

Pedestrians who act unaware of how they are interfering with the progress of other pedestrians suffer from an unhealthy emotional syndrome called Passive-Aggressive Pedestrian Rage. This very common walker’s anti-social syndrome consists of many intercorrelated negative and passive-aggressive behaviors, including:

 

1.     suddenly stopping -- requiring those behind to initiate risky and stressful collision avoidance procedures

2.     walking shoulder to shoulder with companions – forcing those behind to slow down and wait, or else, to ask for permission to pass (“Excuse me!”)

3.     sitting on the ground with legs extended – forcing walkers to step over or go around them

4.     walking on the wrong side – forcing others to walk around

5.     standing in one spot and seeing a person carrying bags coming towards them but not moving out of the way – giving the impression they couldn’t care less about your comfort or your right of way

6.     walking around a corner too close to the building and invariably almost bumping into others

7.     walking much slower than others while talking on a cell phone, reading, or dawdling and gawking

8.     standing too close to the person ahead in a cashier shopping line as if to pressure the person in front to hurry up

9.     after the show in a theater standing in the aisle putting on the coat and ignoring others who want to pass

10.  passing another pedestrian, going in front and slowing down (called “cutting off”)

11.  walking too close behind another pedestrian (called “tailgating”)

12.  smoking outside a building close to the entrance

13.  using a cell phone in an elevator, waiting room, or waiting line

14.  (add here your least favorite pedestrian behaviors)

 

 


frustration followed by rage, emotionally impaired thinking, and aggressive behavior

vs.

frustration followed by resolve, emotionally intelligent thinking, and constructive behavior.


 When we walk in a crowded area while being in a hurry, we may experience the intense negative emotion of frustration each time there is an impediment or block to our destination. This emotion is a natural response that we share with animals that attack us when they are frustrated by fear or impediment. In behavioral biology this is known as the frustration-aggression explanation. You can see this also with toddlers and children who hit or push each other when frustrated over having to give up a toy or losing a turn in a game.  When frustration in a community goes up over a shared issue, violent acts tend to erupt.

 

The frustration-aggression syndrome tries to keep us at the uncivilized animal level of community. But as we strive towards higher levels of civilization and humanity we develop for ourselves rational principles of pedestrianism that convince us of the critical necessity of maintaining civility in our interactions with others in public places. Civility is the antidote to the age of rage!

 

George Washington (see below) wrote in his diary that civility is the glue that holds this nation together. Sidewalk rage, both active and passive-aggressive forms, is a brute force approach to walking on streets and malls. The rage proceeds from a lack of emotional intelligence that depends on positive and realistic thinking. Rage is an emotional state that imposes impaired thinking. False assumptions and misjudgments turn into rageful behavior that is unhealthy to the individual and dangerous to the community.

 

For example, tailgating a pedestrian by following too close behind, is an active rageful response sourced in one’s desire to punish and retaliate. Our intense negative emotion of rage overcomes the habit of civility we normally show in public places or while shopping.  The pedestrian who insists on walking slower than the rest of the traffic is emotionally gripped by passive-aggressive justifications that tend to reassert self-interest over public good and order. The pedestrian who maintains the slow walk may think, You can’t make me go faster. I have just as much right as you do to walk here as I please, etc. You can see the aggressiveness in this attitude because it lacks caring, sympathy, or compassion for the other walkers. 

 

 

Sidewalk rage is therefore a weakening of the community bonds that hold us together.

 

In our book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving (2000) we describe the Symptoms of the Age of Rage (see Chapter 1—Driving in the Age of Rage):

 

Facing the Culture of Disrespect
And the President warned us about the decline of sportsmanship, where "winning ugly" has become the popular model, and unrepentant bullies deliberately contribute to an atmosphere of unsportsmanlike behavior with profanity, kicking trash cans, insulting referees, making ugly shows of defiance, participating in field brawls, and denigrating fans in media interviews.

A culture of rage also prevails in the driving arena. Everyone knows about it, and everybody talks about it. The adversarial attitude common in driving is similar to disputes and disagreements in the workplace, in the family, and in personal relationships. Aggressiveness among motorists adds a dysfunctional element to driving as a social institution or activity. Some drivers go overboard in applying the defensive driving principle, emphasizing suspiciousness and a readiness to criticize or expect the worst of others.

This generation will be characterized as the "Age of Rage," typified in popular book titles and headlines that herald, and accurately reflect, society's deep involvement in the rage experience:

•                The Culture of Rage

•                The Culture of Criticism

•                The Culture of Violence

•                The Culture of Disrespect

•                The Culture of Aggression

•                The Culture of Cynicism

•                The Culture of Fear

•                The Argument Culture

Negative thoughts behind the wheel act like mental pollutants, decreasing the enjoyment of driving and increasing its noxious by-products--stress, higher blood pressure, frustration, pessimism, and less effective mental productivity that influences health, workplace, and family life. For millions, driving has become an emotional irritant that daily contaminates their mood. According to research in the U.S. and Sweden, the longer the commute, the higher the blood pressure, and commuters facing congested drives have a greater incidence of absenteeism. Men and women alike, of all ages, ethnic, and income groups, experience frustration on crowded freeways and at red lights. While this is an understandable reaction to congestion, few realize that frustration in traffic is a learned habit, and therefore it can be unlearned.

Learned negativity is characteristic of this generation's driving norms. For years we imbibe our parents' attitudes as we ride with them. Watching drivers behaving badly on TV, enjoying it and getting away without consequences, further reinforces the norm of aggressiveness. When teenagers obtain that coveted driver's license and claim their independence, the negativity they've imbibed in childhood takes over and fortifies the culture of disrespect. And we are passing it on to the next generation--unless we decide to do something about it. Social methods have been used to counteract the stressful effects of negative thoughts. For example, commuters who switch to ride sharing arrangements show a significant reduction in blood pressure within a few days. Ride-sharers, both as drivers and passengers, are less bothered by congestion, possibly because socializing shifts their focus away from what other drivers are doing or not doing. This book presents self-change methods that substitute habitual negativity with learned optimism and a positive outlook behind the wheel.

The Expanding Age of Rage

There are indications that the culture of disrespect is opening new venues for expressing anger. As usual, media mavens have a finger on new cultural developments and the word is out: Rage is Spreading! Many headlines proclaim:

•                Parking Lot Rage

•                Sidewalk Rage

•                Surf Rage

•                Air Rage

•                Neighbor Rage

•                Shopping Mall Rage

•                Workplace Rage

•                Cafeteria Rage

•                Customer Rage

•                Keyboard Rage

•                Desk Rage

A recent New Yorker cartoon captioned "Sidewalk Rage" pictures a spacious sidewalk divided by double lines into four lanes, each marked with a sign: Speed Walkers (leftmost lane), Walkers Who Veer, Walkers who Reverse Direction, and Walkers Who Inexplicably Stop (rightmost lane). This unfortunate episode reveals the ugly reality of sidewalk rage:

It seems road rage doesn't end at the curb. World champion cyclist Larry Zimich became the victim of sidewalk rage Tuesday afternoon on the Lions Gate Bridge. On Wednesday, the 32-year-old North Vancouver rider woke up at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. "Right now I can't even get up," said Zimich, who's suffering from broken bones in his shoulder and a displaced hip after a roadside confrontation with bridge workers.20

One of the pedestrians on the bridge yelled an obscenity about cyclists and is reported to have "raised his elbow and clipped Zimich with it as Zimich rode slowly by" causing the cyclist to fall over:

"I ended up on the bridge deck and in the middle of the lane," said the 156-pound rider. "I heard something crack. Then I heard the screeching of the cars. I look up and there's this guy's bumper right above me. He just managed to stop in time. The poor guy thought he had hit me. He was just shaking.

These worrisome news items illustrate the severity of the expanding rage problem:21

Car show rage:

At the New York International Auto Show, two men are rushed to hospital after a knife fight at the BMW display. Witnesses say the altercation began when a man stepped in front of another who was trying to photograph a white convertible.

Express lane rage:

A Milwaukee grocery shopper follows a woman to the parking lot and cuts off part of her nose because the woman had gone through the express checkout with more than 10 items. The man, 41, is charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.

Daniel Goleman writes that anger "is energizing, even exhilarating."24 Venting rage behind the wheel feels like a catharsis--"Isn't it better for me than holding it in?" Does this justify hostility or uncivility? While long held popular belief says that venting anger is healthy, recent medical research concludes that venting instead increases stress and depresses immune system functioning.25 The new message is: anger kills.26 However, culture has inherited the ill effects of the "venting is good" model. Goleman points to the "seductive, persuasive power" of anger, of the illusion that it is uncontrollable, triggered automatically, that we're not really responsible when it just comes out.24 But actually, the "triggering" stimulus is merely the sudden realization of physical endangerment. Someone cuts us off and we hit the brakes. As the foot moves, the brain reacts simultaneously and prepares for the worst. For a few moments we experience overwhelming physical sensations. This is the moment of choice.

It is a free choice and its outcome depends on the symbolic value we attach to the event. If we attach the event to our self-esteem, we may go down the road of rage, feeling insulted, wronged, disrespected, demeaned, and thwarted from our legitimate goal. The emotional, reptilian, old brain takes over and leads us to emotionally challenged behavior like retaliating. But there is another choice that is equally available to us in that emotional moment. If we realize that the driver's prime directive is to stay in control of the vehicle and of the situation, we can see that we give up control by responding in kind. We don't know what the other might do next. But we have the freedom to transform the symbolic value of the "triggering" event, to inhibit the impulse to kill. Following the prime directive gives us the opportunity to remain cool headed and to respond from the new, cortical brain, "Hey, be my guest." or, "Let it go, it's not worth it." or, "Maybe the guy has an emergency or something." or, "That could be my grandmother." The essence of emotional intelligence for drivers is consciously transforming the critical reaction to something less painful. That's a big victory!

George Washington's Rules of Civility

Reporter Michelle Malkin, in an article on road rage, reminds us of George Washington's cardinal Rule of Civility as the cement that binds a nation together. Malkin believes that following these rules can cure road rage and aggressive driving:27

The problem isn't absence of self-esteem - but an utter lack of self-restraint. Two-and-a-half centuries ago, our Founding Father, George Washington, subscribed to a more cost-effective and time-tested program for reining in one's inner dragons. He carried a hand-copied list of self-improvement rules, originally set out by 16th-century Jesuit priests, wherever he wen--from Valley Forge to Yorktown and throughout his presidency. The original manuscript is kept at the Library of Congress.

Like many modern road-ragers, Washington was a hothead who faced mounting stress at work and at home. As Brookhiser notes, "Washington had a lot to be angry about over the course of his career: untrained soldiers, incompetent officers, difficult allies, quarrelsome associates (including Thomas Jefferson)--to say nothing of his own mistakes from losing battles to misjudging people….But if he had gone into uncontrollable rages at every disappointment or disaster, he would have ruined his health, besides ruining his effectiveness as a leader." Rather than let it all hang out, Washington tempered his temper by adhering to some basic rules of civil life.

This is the simplest and nicest solution available, more effective than law enforcement surveillance: Civility, a true American virtue! For instance, Washington's Rule 1, translated for the traffic world: "Every action done to another driver ought to be done with some sign of respect." This alone could solve the epidemic of the century and stop it from reproducing itself in the next. Washington's Rule 22 had a moral implication for character development: "Shew not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy." This is the basis of supportive driving; a driving orientation that emphasizes compassion, tolerance, and wisdom. Further advice from our founding father for aggressive drivers, as recast by Malkin:

Don't show any sign of anger in your interactions with other motorists, but show instead signs of "sweetness and mildness" (Rule 45).

Don't use insulting language against another driver or pedestrian, neither curse nor revile your passengers (Rule 49).

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called your driving conscience (Rule 110).

Malkin also refers to our approach:

Naturally, a new breed of experts in "traffic psychology" has arisen to provide a cure. They converged upon Congress last week peddling 3-step, 5-step, and 10-step programs to "acquire inner power at the wheel" and "engineer your own driving personality make-over." These gridlock gurus warned the House Transportation Committee that the world's car-bound population is facing a mental health crisis.

Most rage-related incidents, the experts explain, arise from trivial causes over parking spaces, obscene gestures, tailgating and turn signals. Thus the need, says renowned traffic psychologist Leon James (a k a "Dr. Driving") at the University of Hawaii…to "slay your driving dragon" and "acquire personal self-management techniques as a driver.


Checklist: Your Sidewalk Rage Tendency


instructions: For each question, circle Yes if the statement applies to you reasonably well, or No if it doesn't.

1. I swear to myself a lot more in crowded places than I do elsewhere.

                                    Yes   No

2. I normally have critical thoughts about other pedestrians.

                                    Yes   No

3. When a shopper in a cashier line tries to steal ahead, I get furious in my mind.

                                    Yes   No

4. I sometimes enjoy the fantasy of doing violence to some pedestrians (e.g., imagining blowing them up or sweeping them aside). But it's  just fantasy.

                                    Yes   No

5. When pedestrians  are being inconsiderate and inconvenience other walkers, I get furious with them, even aggressive sometimes.

                                    Yes   No

6. It's good to get your anger out because we all have aggressive feelings inside that naturally come out under stressful situations.

                                    Yes   No

7. When I'm very upset about something, it's often a relief to walk aggressively through a group of people to give my feelings an outlet.

                                    Yes   No

8. I feel that it's important to remind certain obnoxious walkers to behave appropriately in crowded places instead of just letting them walk in whatever way they want.

                                    Yes   No

9. Pedestrians shouldn't have the right to walk slowly in crosswalks when cars are waiting.

                                    Yes   No

10. Pushy walkers really annoy me so I bad-mouth them when I can to feel better.

                                    Yes   No

11. I tailgate when someone walks too slow for conditions.

                                    Yes   No

12. I try to get to my destination in the shortest time possible, or else it doesn't feel right.

                                    Yes   No

13. If I stopped walking aggressively others would take advantage of my passivity.

                                    Yes   No

14. I feel envious emotions when another pedestrian makes the light on time and I'm stuck on red.

                                    Yes   No

15. I feel energized by the sense of power and competition I experience while walking aggressively through a crowded area.

                                    Yes   No

16. I hate narrow hallways and walkways that are always crowded.

                                    Yes   No

17. Once in a while I get so frustrated with other pedestrians that I begin to walk recklessly, taking chances in bumping into them.

                                    Yes   No

18. I hate dawdling shopeers and I refuse to walk differently around them.

                                    Yes   No

19. Sometimes I feel that I'm holding up walkers behind me so I start pressuring the pedestrians in front of me (called "tailgating" in driving).

                                    Yes   No

20. I would feel embarrassed and frustrated to "get stuck" behind a crowd of slow moving pedestrians.

                                    Yes   No

 

Scoring your answers: Give yourself 1 pavement rage point for every Yes answer. How many do you have?

Interpreting your score: Scores range from 0 to 20. Few pedestrians ever get 0 because negative pedestrian emotions are habitual and cultural. We all have some tendency toward it sometimes. The higher the score, the more likely it is that you will be the victim of sidewalk rage trouble. Typical scores range from 5 to 20 with an average of 12.

If your score is less than 5 you're not an aggressive pedestrian and your pedestrain rage tendency is manageable. Scores between 5 and 10 indicate that you have moderate pedestrian rage habits of walking. If your score is greater than 10 your road pedestrian rage tendency is out of control, enough to compromise your ability to remain calm and fair in certain routine, but challenging walking situations.

By examining the pattern of your answers, you can gain valuable insight about your current level of emotional intelligence as a driver (see Chapter 5). Many drivers are able to reduce their score to under 5 after conscious practice with the techniques described in this book. This checklist helps you assess four critical elements that create habitual road rage:

•                your anger theory (questions 1 to 7)

•                your pedestrian philosophy (questions 8 to 11)

•                your habit of compulsive rushing or feeling competitive (questions 12 to 17)

•                your over-sensitivity to social pressure by pedestrians (18 to 20)


 

PEDESTRIAN AGGRESSIVENESS SYNDROME

 

 

In the expression Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome the word syndrome indicates that pedestrian aggressiveness is expressed through a variety of negative interactions, all of which are intercorrelated with each other. When you examine the list of aggressive pedestrian behaviors you will recognize them from your own experiences.

 

Two types of pedestrian aggressiveness are involved in PAS:

 

(1)  Active-Aggressive Sidewalk Rage:
pedestrians who verbally or by appearance express strong disapproval of some other pedestrians and the inappropriate manner they are behaving in a crowded public walkway

(2)   Passive-Aggressive Sidewalk Rage:
pedestrians who act like they are oblivious or unconcerned with the legitimate rights and needs of other pedestrians nearby

 

Every person can observe these two types of pedestrian aggressiveness behaviors occurring regularly in crowded malls, airports, theaters, school exits, office buildings entrances, etc. 

 

It is necessary for a society to train its citizens in appropriate crowd behavior. School children need to have programs to acquire good pedestrian behavior in schoolyards, streets, shopping malls, and inside stores. College campuses can have designated volunteers with an armband to encourage appropriate pedestrian behaviors. This can be also be done at airports and all crowded places. Without such societal involvement it is unrealistic to expect people to change an ongoing general habit.

 

Pedestrian Personality Makeovers are possible and needed for most people, maybe all people. This is something every individual voluntarily decides to do, being motivated by powerful self-change agents such as ethics, morality, spirituality, and patriotism. Sidewalk rage, both active and passive varieties, is unethical, immoral, spiritually detrimental, and unpatriotic. These can be justified by the following considerations:

·      unethical:
because we are occupying someone’s rightful place or space

·      immoral:
because we are aggressively keeping someone from their freedom to go there

·      spiritually detrimental:
because we are reinforcing in ourselves selfish and disrespectful attitudes and behaviors

·      unpatriotic:
because aggressiveness in all forms in places is dijunctive of community life and teamwork interdependence

By (a) monitoring or observing your thoughts while walking, and (b) arguing with yourself to adopt these principles of fairness and human rights, you can gain the energy, power, and motivation to successfully achieve a pedestrian personality makeover. You will thus go from being a habitual sidewalk rager to a peaceful and supportive pedestrian. The benefits are impressive. We feel better about ourselves when walking in a crowd filled with good will and respect for others. We feel that we belong to this community because we integrate our behavior with the public good and the individual citizen.

 

But What If  I‘m In a Hurry?

That is when we are tempted the most to put on the role of our raging pedestrian personality. What would be supportive pedestrian behavior when we are in a hurry?

 

First, let’s agree on inhibiting the expression of our aggressive intentions such as saying “Excuse me” with a strong disapproving tone, or tailgating the slow walker, or blocking the walkway by stopping, or walking as a group over the entire sidewalk, etc. etc. (both active-aggressive and passive aggressive rageful interactions).

 

Second, surround what you do about it in a soft context of good will without condemnation or criticism. Find a kind thought about the passive-aggressive rager, such as, “Perhaps the person is distracted or conflictual and would not do this if more aware, besides the fact that I myself can do this if distracted”, etc. etc. When you put on this positive and community spirited attitude you find ways of passing the block and getting through without giving offense. This requires you to be willing to perform face saving speech acts such as “Excuse me” repeated several times with a painful facial expression. You are thus performing the transaction in which you are reassuring the other person that your intentions are good but that you are in a hurry and apologize for the inconvenience. Etc.

 

Some people reading the above strategy might feel that it is wrong to reward bad public behavior by being nice to the offenders. Some people feel that it is our community duty to protect others by telling passive-aggressive sidewalk ragers that they are out of line and should not make it hard for others to pass. Some feel that their inconsiderate attitude should be punished. But thinking this way is just more of sidewalk rage that we must put up with from our own doing! The evidence that it is rage is that we don’t want to stop talking about it, and that we continue to fantasize various punishments these people deserve. This kind of mental venting is stressful and robs us from the pleasure and peace of walking anywhere.

 
My research shows that the pedestrian aggressiveness syndrome includes the following typical pedestrian behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. This Scale has not been formally constructed by sampling data. Nevertheless your own observations of yourself while walking in crowded places can indicate to you how aggressive you are as a pedestrian and what type of pedestrian personality makeover you may need. Observe yourself in a crowded place such as a mall, supermarket, hallway, waiting room, theater isle, waiting line, etc., then immediately after sit down or stand aside and ask yourself how many of these bad pedestrian behaviors apply to you on that occasion. Repeat the observation several more times until you begin to get to know yourself as a pedestrian.  


The following items are only some of the things we habitually do as pedestrians and you are no doubt familiar with many more.  All together they define the pedestrian aggressiveness syndrome. They are all intercorrelated. This means that if you do one of them regularly, you will also do many of the others on a regular basis. You may need a pedestrian personality overhaul.

1.     feeling stress and impatience when walking in a crowded area (crosswalk, staircase, mall, store, airport, street, beach, park, etc.)

2.     having denigrating thoughts about other pedestrians

3.     acting in a hostile manner (staring, presenting a mean face, moving faster or closer than expected)

4.     walking much faster or much slower than the rest of the pedestrians around you

5.     not yielding when it's the polite thing to do (insisting on going first)

6.     walking on the left of a crowded passageway where most pedestrians walk on the right

7.     muttering at other pedestrians

8.     bumping into others

9.     not apologizing when expected (after bumping by accident or brushing too close in attempting to pass)

10.   making insulting gestures

11.   hogging or blocking the passageway, acting uncaring or unaware of other passers bye

12.   walking by a slower moving pedestrian and cutting back too soon (feels hostile or rude and is equivalent to "cutting off" in driving)

13.   expressing pedestrian rage against a driver (like insulting or throwing something)

14.   feeling enraged at other pedestrians and enjoying thoughts of violence

15.   feeling competitive with other pedestrians

 

 

It’s normal to experience sidewalk rage under certain conditions as when we come up against pedestrians at airports who are walking on the left and disrupting the flow of those who are moving along at a quick pace. See if you can recognize your own experiences in the following sequence of events:

A.     As you walk on the right at a quick pace pulling your suitcase wheels behind you, you notice two pedestrians coming towards you on your side, carrying things and walking on their left. You realize as you come nearer that they are not going to move out of your way.

B.     You suddenly feel the heat of the extra blood rushing to your face and you become conscious of negative thoughts tumbling through your mind. You hear yourself mutter quietly under your breath and derogatory words are formed silently on your lips.
Or in addition: you allow yourself more overt expressions such as “giving the stink eye” as you move by, saying something unflattering out loud, deliberately bumping into, and perhaps for some people, some violently inventive behaviors.

C.     At this point you have the opportunity of continuing the process in the form of mental venting or in the form of mental re-evaluation.
Mental venting is a long process marked by the inability to stop thinking and talking about an event or person. It is an obsession high in affective cost. We spend a lot of negative feelings during mental venting. There is a high toll on the physical health as well. Mental venting destroys the glue that holds community together. The person in the grips of mental venting gives up rationality and civility. In driving mental venting leads to dangerous road rage.

D.     Mental re-evaluation puts a stop to mental venting. Mental re-evaluation is the quick process of changing one’s negative performance style to supportive. In mental venting we quickly multiply the reasons and justifications for hating and punishing the offending pedestrians. In mental re-evaluation we quickly multiply the reasons and justifications for forgiving and supporting the offending pedestrians. We compel ourselves to make a show of public friendliness or civility by slowing down, by smiling, by accepting apologies, by greeting, by walking around without showing displeasure, etc.


 

To summarize:

(A)   you notice inconsiderate walkers ahead

(B)   you’re filled with negative thoughts and words

(C)   you continue with mental venting and sidewalk rage,

or else

(D)   you do mental re-evaluation towards tolerance and civility


The difference between (C) and (D) is like that between unhealthy vs. healthy, or between irrational vs. rational, or between destructive of community vs. community building. Pedestrians are capable of switching from mental venting and revenge (C) to mental tolerance and civility (D) when their love for community and rationality exceeds their love for revenge and getting even with the offending walkers. Thinking of insulting things about someone is motivated by feelings of revenge and the love of punishing those who are offensive or inconsiderate. Giving up the satisfaction of this mental revenge is a major step in one’s spiritual self-actualization.


The Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale (PASS) is a self-administered scale that measures the intensity of a person's aggressiveness as a pedestrian. In its current form it has 15 scale items referencing the pedestrian's affective (emotions), cognitive (thoughts), and sensorimotor (actions) style of walking in public places, especially when crowded with people, vehicles, and places of attraction.

I developed the pedestrian aggressiveness scale by having people walk with a recorder and speaking their thoughts and feelings aloud. I analyzed the tapes and isolated 15 items that walkers frequently feel, think, and do while interacting with others.

Some walkers are more aggressive than others, though I found that almost everyone has critical and denigrating thoughts about walkers who act oblivious of how they affect other pedestrians.

For example, here are some frequent rageful behaviors by pedestrians:

    * maintaining a mean face as you pass by (to express your disapproval)
    * deliberately bumping into the pedestrian blocking the way
    * yelling at a motorist or cyclist
    * enjoying thoughts of violence about inconsiderate pedestrians

These negative pedestrian behaviors can be modified by those who realize this negativity in themselves, are shocked by it, and make a drastic decision to stop being an aggressive pedestrian and start acting like a supportive pedestrian.

Pedestrians need to connect with each other on Facebook or other social networking facilities and promote becoming a supportive pedestrian. This involves acting the opposite of what you feel and think.

    * put on a nice face as you go by
    * do not engage their eyes so as to keep the interaction short and reserved
    * every time you think of something negative, modify it with something positive (e.g., "They are very involved and do not notice me." or "I sometimes do that when I am in their situation." etc.-- Be creative in positivity thinking!)
    * remind yourself that negativity increases stress and is unhealthy
    * remind yourself that expressing negativity in public places is dangerous since you never know if the other person is or is not violent (and carries a weapon, etc.)


The important element of pedestrian self-improvement techniques is to observe yourself while walking among others. This is more effective than taking a personality test. All pedestrians need to monitor their thoughts and emotions while walking in crowded places. This will indicate the tendency to have sidewalk rage.

If you observe that your emotions and thoughts are negative, it's time to give yourself the opportunity to become a positive and supportive pedestrian who enjoys walking and experiences little stress or risk.

 

Also think about the fact that being a supportive pedestrian strengthens social bonds in the community generally. Everybody benefits when a person switches from being an aggressive walker to a supportive walker.

 

 

The Daily Emotional Spin Cycle

 

 

The diagram below is called "the four options diagram." It shows the four options we have on our daily emotional spin cycle:

The two options in the upper half of the diagram are called the red zone which refer to others and the world (one is negative and the other is positive). The two options in the lower half of the diagram are called the blue zone. It refers to self (again, one is negative and the other is positive).

Note that each of the four options involves the threefold-self: feeling habits, thinking habits, and acting out habits which include sensations in the body that we are aware of but do not show overtly, as well as our body movements and appearance that others can see. The four options are called the "emotional spin cycle" because they map out the cultural norms of behavior we acquire in our socialization or upbringing. To function as socialized individuals our threefold self must acquire particular habits that run themselves off according to a standard behavioral routine. These socialized habit routines are sometimes called "social scripts" or "schemas".  They mark our sub-cultural identity and social personality. They make us predictable and familiar to others.

 

 

motional Spin cycle Four Options Dr.
                              Leon James

 

 

From: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy16/g16reports-instructions.html   

 

Communication and cooperation require that people overlap to some extent in their habits of feeling, thinking, and acting or appearing. These standardized habit routines of the threefold-self can be categorized into four main types, which are here called "the four options." These are the four types of behavioral routines we can choose to run off at some particular moment in our daily round of activities. It's up to us which option we choose at any one time or in any one interaction with others.

 

We can consciously choose to modify them so that the new habits will then become our automatic reactions. These new habits are also standardized but they may suit us better, as for example when we choose to switch from negative to positive zones. This switching is indicated on the diagram by the red bridge and the blue bridge.

 

Notice the option at the top left "negative about others and the world." Here the threefold self is running off the habit routine of RAGE or ARROGANCE. This affective feeling state or motivation in your mind, seeks and hooks up with a type of cognitive thinking that is called EMOTIONALLY IMPAIRED. When we are in an enraged or arrogant affective feeling state, a compatible cognitive thinking routine is triggered in our mind. This type of cognitive routine is not objective, realistic, or rational but is merely made to suit the negative feeling of rage or arrogance. The negative emotion and the impaired thinking then combine together to produce an overt behavioral routine that is called AGGRESSIVE or DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. In this way the threefold self runs off a series of negative habit routines consisting of a negative feeling coupled with impaired thinking and acted out as destructive behavior. This is one option we have in many situations in which we find ourselves every day.

 

Now notice the option at the top right: "positive about others and the world." Here the threefold self is running off the habit routine of RESOLVE with COMPASSION. This affective feeling state or motivation in your mind seeks and hooks up with a type of cognitive thinking routine that is called EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT. When we are in a positive affective state of RESOLVE with COMPASSION, we are highly motivated to do something to solve a problem. The affective feeling habit of resolve (or determination) needs to be associated with the affective feeling habit of compassion. This is what makes it different from rage. When we choose the rage option, all sorts of negative affective feeling habits will come associated with it, such as cruelty, hatred, and insensitivity. But the resolve with compassion option comes associated with positive feeling habits such as compassion, empathy, fairness, and tolerance.

 

The positive affective feeling state seeks out and triggers a compatible cognitive thinking habit. This type of cognitive thinking activity in the mind is objective, realistic, and rational. We then understand the realities of the actual situation instead of misunderstanding it and replacing it with the subjective distortions in thinking caused by negative emotions. The positive affective feeling state of RESOLVE with COMPASSION then seeks out and combines with EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT thinking, and together they produce an overt behavioral routine that is called SUPPORTIVE and CONSTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. The threefold self runs off a series of positive habits consisting of a positive feeling coupled with emotionally intelligent thinking and acted out as constructive behavior. This is a second option.

 

The "red bridge" (look at the diagram again) connects the negative and positive portions of the upper half of the diagram. The bridge is shown to connect negative thinking to positive thinking because we have voluntary control over our thinking process, and much less control directly over our feelings. The idea of this approach is that if you voluntarily change your negative thinking into positive thinking--a choice we always can make--then the negative feeling will soon turn into positive. Then the new positive feeling coupled with the positive thinking together will produce the new overt behavior. At that point you're living the new option and you've been successful in switching over from the negative option.

 

Of course this may not last long since a few minutes later a new situation or concern comes along and we can be thrown back into the negative spin cycle. But now we can use the bridge technique again and get ourselves moving in the positive spin cycle. Eventually, with daily practice, we will learn to switch to positive as soon as we observe ourselves in negative mode. In this way we change our life and our personality for the better. The bridge technique gives us a choice to customize our options to suit what's best for us and society.

 

You use the red bridge to cross from negative thinking to positive thinking, from emotionally impaired thinking to emotionally intelligent thinking. Our ability to use the bridge technique is part of the socialization process that produces all our habits. The red bridge technique consists of talking to ourselves in a certain way so that we stop thinking negatively about someone or some situation and start thinking positively. We have the capacity to monitor our thinking and to note that it is emotionally impaired or biased. We can then replace this type of negative thinking routine with more objective and emotionally intelligent thinking routines. Of course to use the bridge technique we must be motivated to use the positive option available. Without that motivation we keep re-running or re-cycling the negative routines of the threefold self that we have acquired in the past.

 

Now look at the the third option of routines that is labeled "negative about the self" (at the bottom left). A general name for that category is DEPRESSION or INADEQUACY.  These associated negative feelings about ourselves seek out and encourage thinking routines that are called PESSIMISTIC or CYNICAL. Feelings of depression are actually feelings of rage turned towards ourselves. Similarly, feelings of inadequacy are actually feelings of arrogance turned against ourselves. Rage against others or the world alternates with rage against the self, and vice versa. The rage-depression spin cycle and the arrogance-inadequacy spin cycle, represent two very common options many people take every day. Note that the feelings of depression-inadequacy combine with pessimistic-cynical thinking to produce the behavioral outcome called SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. This is the third option.

 

The fourth option is located at the bottom right of the diagram. It is labeled "positive about self." In this state we are opting for feelings of enthusiasm and self-confidence which we have available due to our socialization process. These positive feeling states would not last on their own because they need to seek out and be connected with positive thinking habits called here optimistic and realistic thinking. The positive feeling states of enthusiasm and self-confidence act together with the positive thinking routines called optimism and realism, to produce the positive outward routines called SELF-ENHANCING BEHAVIOR. The healthy growth of our personality and character depends on our choosing this fourth option. Self-enhancing behavior includes mental health, discipline, orderliness, mastery, and coping. The well-adjusted, happy, and successful individual chooses this option more than the negative counterpart.

 

Note the "blue bridge" in the diagram that allows us to cross from negative thinking about self to positive. The blue bridge represents our capacity to monitor our own thinking process and to recognize what is pessimistic and cynical in it. We can then question this pessimism or cynicism and substitute positive forms of thinking about self called optimism and realism. But optimism by itself could degenerate into unrealistic wish-fulfillment--which is in the negative category. This is why we need to combine optimism with realism to insure that we run off only positive thinking routines that correspond with reality. The blue bridge allows us to talk ourselves out of pessimism or cynicism and switch to more positive and more realistic thinking routines.

 

The idea is that as we make ourselves think positive things about ourselves, the positive feelings we have lying dormant will activate themselves since now they can act together with positive thinking routines. When we make ourselves think optimistically and realistically we create the conditions for bringing on positive feeling routines such as enthusiasm and self-confidence. Self-enhancing behavior will be the result when positive feelings of enthusiasm and self-confidence combine together with positive thinking called optimism and realism. The blue bridge may also help you flip-flop in positive zones. Just as rage and depression flip-flop or take turns, in the same way enthusiasm and self-confidence flip-flop with resolve and compassion, keeping us in the positive zones.

 

Your task in this project will be to monitor the negative options you tend to automatically select in particular recurrent situations every day, and then to use the appropriate bridge technique to switch to a positive zone. You will then observe to what extent the bridge technique worked out or not. Often we seem unable to cross the bridge due to the grip of negative feeling and thinking routines that appear to hold us there captive, and we seem to ourselves unable to get free of them. But at other times we succeed in crossing the bridge and changing the option that our threefold self is performing. Your self-analysis data will indicate when you are more successful and when you are less so. This is the purpose of the project. (Note: Your grade does not depend on whether you're successful or not when applying the bridge technique but on how you write up the project.)

 

Explanation continues here: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy16/g16reports-instructions.html - Negative-Spin-Cycle

 


TEE Cards by Dr. Leon James

No.37C8 DrDriving Factoids and Statistics


  1. About Pedestrians--Part1

    Over one million pedestrians were killed or injured in the US in 1995, according to DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics
  2. In 1994, 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities were older people.
  3. Males accounted for 67 percent of total fatalities, 68 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
  4. In 1994, there were 5,472 pedestrian fatalities which represented 13 percent of total fatalities.
  5. On average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every 96 minutes.
  6. More than one-third of children between 5 and 9 years old killed in motor vehicle crashes were pedestrians.
  7. Nearly 100,000 pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States, with a majority of these accidents taking place in urban areas.
  8. Even though there are fewer drivers on U.S. roads at night, the risk of death in a traffic accident more than doubles when darkness falls. In 1996, there were more than 18,000 drivers or passengers killed in nighttime car crashes. About 3,500 pedestrians and 368 bicyclists also were killed.

 

No.67C8 DrDriving's Factoids and Statistics

 

Drivers Killing Pedestrians--Part 2

The socio-political spectrum of driving factions in a community includes drivers, byciclists, passengers, and pedestrians, all vying against each other for overlapping venues and spaces and rights. In this frightening war drivers kill and injure pedestrians at an alarming and shocking rate

  1. In 1998, about 7,000 pedestrians were killed by vehicles.
  2. About 100,000 pedestrians are injured by motor vehicles each year in the U.S.
  3. Since 1990, about 70,000 pedestrians have been killed and 700,000 were injured.
  4. The U.S. pedestrian death rate is now 2 killed for every 100,000 people.
  5. Children younger than age 16 are most likely to be struck by motor vehicles.
  6. Pedestrians ages 10-15 have the highest nonfatal injury rates.
  7. Elderly pedestrians, though less frequently struck than children, are more likely to die after being struck.
  8. Beginning at age 65, the rate of pedestrian fatality is nearly twice as high as it is for people younger than 65.
  9. Men constitute about 70% of pedestrian deaths annually.
  10. About 18% of fatal injuries to pedestrians occur in collisions with motor vehicles at intersections.
  11. About 39% of nonfatal injuries occur at intersections.
  12. In urban areas, the proportion of pedestrian injuries at intersections is greater than in nonurban areas.
  13. A substantial number of urban pedestrian crashes involve turning vehicles, particularly left-turning vehicles.
  14. Pedestrians usually are not "run over" by motor vehicles. The bumper usually strikes a child's upper leg, and the front edge of the hood strikes the torso. An adult may be struck in the lower leg by the bumper and in the upper leg by the front edge of the hood. At impact speeds slower than 10-12 mph, these may be the only contacts between the pedestrian and the vehicle, but at higher speeds pedestrians usually slide over the front edge of the hood before their upper bodies strike the vehicle.

 

No.68C1 Common Emotionally Un-intelligent


Pedestrian Behaviors to Avoid

  1. Not looking up when stepping into a marked crosswalk
  2. Looking up only after barging into the street
  3. Not looking up when proceeding through a marked crosswalk
  4. Proceeding into the intersection too late (Yellow light or Don’t Walk sign)
  5. Looking at the nearest car but ignoring approaching cars in the second or third lanes that are not visible
  6. Not monitoring the speed of an approaching car, assuming the driver will see the walker
  7. Walking while impaired (drugs, alcohol, medication, rage, excessive fatigue, suicidal impulse)
  8. Walking in dim light conditions (dusk, night, daybreak) wearing clothing that is dark, assuming drivers can see walkers in that light

 

No.69C1 Pedestrian Training Curriculum


People tend to look up when they cross an unmarked street, while they tend to look down in a marked crosswalk, almost as if hypnotized by the white lines. But what is the solution when no traffic light will be installed at an intersection? Making the lines disappear, in the hope that people will walk two blocks to the traffic light intersection? Perhaps that's the engineer's perspective, but parents and educators see that the community must do more pedestrian training. Imparting safe walking skills should be as prominent in the school curriculum as oral and written literacy.
A good Walk Right Curriculum would include teaching these skills:

  1. Safety principles
    - how to cross
    - what drivers can see daytime and nighttime
    - where to walk when there is no street
    - how to walk in a parking lot
    - who's got the right of way
  2. Human rights issues
    - what's wrong with blocking the way
    - responsibilities towards other pedestrians
    - responsibilities towards drivers and cyclists
    - responsibilities towards law and order
  3. Emotional intelligence
    - how to assess oneself as a pedestrian
    - how to analyze pedestrian conflicts with drivers and cyclists
    - how to manage oneself in a line
    - how to gauge what rate of walking is appropriate
    - how to think positively about other road users
    - how to think objectively about special pedestrian needs (baby carriages, wheelchairs, people with suitcases, people rushing, etc.)
    - how to manage and schedule walking times

 

No.38C2 SafeCrossing


How to Handle One's Pedestrian Rage

Stress-free, friendly, and safe crossing. How do we get to it? First, we resist blaming drivers and their shortcomings. Second, we examine how we ourselves contribute to the stress and danger of street crossing. Third, and finally, we use SAFE CROSSING TECHNIQUES. Result: reduced stress, greater safety, more civility or mutual support..

Question
"Why should I resist blaming idiot drivers who endanger my life because they're too stupid to be aware of pedestrians in crosswalks?"

This illustrates a pedestrian attitude problem that has gotten thousands of pedestrians killed or injured last year, and again as many this year.

Solution
Make yourself face this: getting angry is stress producing. Who is making you angry? That driver you call "idiot"? No. Wrong theory. You are making yourself angry over that driver's behavior or mentality. Therefore: It is you who is pumping up the stress by mentally churning up your emotions through the venting you're doing. Venting your anger means feeling indignant at the driver, and wanting the driver to know that you're displeased, mad, shocked, or scared. You can tell yourself this: it's worth giving up venting so that you can reduce your stress. Medical research shows that the stress from venting weakens your body's resistance to getting sick.

Giving up venting is not easy, even after you decide you want to. One trick I recommend: ACT THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE!

 

 

No.39C2 SafeCrossing


PEDESTRIAN PERSONALITY MAKEOVERS

Doing a pedestrian self-witnessing report helps you to focus on your pedestrian personality. People don't normally think about it. Most of us walk around unconsciously. You can become more aware of your pedestrian personality by observing your emotions, thoughts, and actions under various conditions. You can carry a little tape recorder or video camera, or you can stop every few minute and write down some of your self-observations.. Here is what one individual wrote:

Staircase and hallway:

"Well, here I am again. And here they are. Just look at that crowd. People everywhere. C'mon folks, stay out of my way please. Look at those two standing at the bottom of the stairway. C'mon you guys don't stand there. Here I come.

I was determined to pass through without slowing down even if I had to bump one of the guys. I felt justified because they were doing something wrong. They should not be blocking the way. There was plenty room for them to step aside against the wall. Why do they have to talk in the middle of the staircase entrance? I felt outraged and prepared to do violence.

OK, that was a bump. My shoulder against his. It felt like he gave way. I put muscle into it. I wanted him to feel a sharp pain for a few seconds. I'm not going to look behind. I'm not going to apologize. In a way I'm glad. I succeeded in teaching this individual a lesson without having to slow down and waste my time. Watch out here comes some idiot person walking down the wrong side of the staircase. I'm not gonna let him get away with it.

At this point I kept going up the staircase on the right hand side. I squared my shoulders and looked down, waiting for the collision. The other man tried to get down through my left side but two people were right behind me so he had to turn his shoulders vertically to squeeze through. He could've made it if I had also turned my left shoulder slightly. But I wouldn't. So he bumped me, expecting me to yield under the force. But I was ready. I pumped my chest and shoulder muscle and held my arm tight. The result was that he fell on top of the two guys that were right behind me. They had to steady themselves against the handrail in order not to go tumbling all the way down. Me, I just kept going without looking back. There was an evil little smile of satisfaction on my face."

Shopping Mall:

"This time I was not just acting like I'm in a hurry. I was. I stayed too long at the coffee shop. I could've left a few minutes earlier but I kept not leaving. Just looking at all the people doing basically nothing.

Damn. Damn. Damn. All these people are crowding in here. I can't understand why they have to be here at this hour. Usually this hour there is hardly anybody. Excuse me. Excuse me. I'm sorry. Excuse me. I can't stand it how slow they are moving. Look at that weird looking guy. Strange hair. Wow, look at that chick. I hate people who walk so slow. I hate people who stand in the way. Excuse me. They act like I don't