Self-Determination Theory as a Framework for Understanding Road Rage1


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    Portions of this research were presented at the annual meeting of Social Psychologists in Texas at Austin, Texas, January 1999. Christopher M. Black, Shannon L. Black, Heather A. Patrick, Suzanne C. Kieffer, and Aruni Nanayakkara provided helpful comments at various stages of this research.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to C. Raymond Knee, Department of Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204–5341. e-mail:


The present study examined relations between motivational orientations, driving anger, and aggressive driving behaviors. It was hypothesized that the tendency to regulate behavior according to contingencies and pressures (controlled orientation), as opposed to interest and choice (autonomy orientation), would be associated with experiencing more driving anger and in turn driving more aggressively. Data from 109 college students were examined. As hypothesized, (a) controlled orientation was associated with feeling more driving anger as a result of other drivers' actions; (b) controlled orientation was associated with more aggressive driving behaviors and more traffic citations; (c) the relation between controlled orientation and aggressive driving was mediated by driving anger; and (d) self-esteem and social anxiety did not account for the results of motivational orientations.