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The social psychology of road rage

sue_frantz
Expert
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There are a lot of social psychological concepts that can help explain road rage. This Seattle Times article (Doughton, 2018) beautifully identifies a number of these concepts. Students will see how social psychology tells us something about our everyday lives. And, hopefully, students will remember this the next time they find themselves overly angry at the behavior of strangers.

You can use the article in any number of ways.

  • Pull out the examples to frame your social psychology lecture
  • After students read the chapter, but before you cover the concepts in class, ask students, as a homework assignment, to identify the social psychological concepts
  • Before you cover these concepts, ask students to read the article, then, in small groups, identify the social psychological concepts
  • After your social psychology lecture, ask students to read the article, and then in small groups, identify the social psychological concepts

If your students are reading the article and identifying the concepts, ask students to define the concepts they find in their own words, quote sections of the article that illustrate each of those concepts, and, finally, explain how the quotes they found illustrate each of the concepts students have identified.

To make it easier, give students these concepts to find in the article:

  • Deindividuation
  • Fundamental attribution error
  • Self-serving bias
  • Outgroup homogeneity bias

If you’d like students to reflect on previous content they’ve learned about in their Intro Psych course, ask them to identify examples of these concepts in the article:

  • Sympathetic nervous system arousal
  • Observational learning
  • Long-term effects of stress

References Doughton, S. (2018, November 2). How to keep your head from exploding in Seattle traffic. Seattle Times. Retrieved from https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/how-to-keep-your-head-from-exploding-in-seattle-tra...

About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology in community colleges since 1992, and has been at Highline College in the Seattle area since 2001. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award . She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed.