Hyundai UK Study Suggests Women Angrier Than Men Behind the Wheel

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In a study of 1,000 drivers, Hyundai UK suggested that women were angrier than men when driving, due to deep-seated emotional intelligence and “the personality trait of neuroticism.”

The study polled 1,000 UK drivers and “reveals women are, on average, 12% angrier than men when they’re behind the wheel.”

Conducted by behavioral psychologist Patrick Fagan from Goldsmiths University London, the study found that driving “driving sparked ancient ‘defence’ instincts from when humans were hunter-gatherers.”


These evolutionary traits kicked in during the test when women were either passed in traffic, shouted or beeped at, had to deal with a back-seat driver (women 14% angrier) or were faced with another driver who failed to use turn signals (women 13% angrier).  In all test scenarios, women were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers.

The study found that two emotions dominated: happiness – intrinsically linked to a sense of freedom when driving – and anger when drivers feel out of control.

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In addition, the study revealed other key findings:

  • The primary reasons for our continued love affair with driving are the freedom it gives us (51%), mobility (19%) and independence (10%)
  • If you want a man to open up, go for a drive. Just under a third (29%) of men said they find it easier to have a conversation in the car. Fourteen percent added that a chat actually makes them a better driver
  • 54% of Brits said the thing that made them really happy in the car was singing – which explains why Carpool Karaoke has resonated
  • When the researchers looked at what makes us happy behind the wheel, 84% of people said “empty roads”, 78% said “the countryside” and 69% “the seaside”
  • Music also makes drivers happy. Eight out of 10 people nearly always listen to something while driving with Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody top of the driving charts. Pop (70%) and rock (61%) are the most popular genres

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Fagan explained the results of the study: “Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism.  Evolutionary theory suggests our early female ancestors had to develop an acute sense of danger for anything that threatened them and their young if their cave was undefended while men were out hunting. That ‘early warning system’ instinct is still relevant today, and women drivers tend to be more sensitive to negative stimuli, so get angry and frustrated quicker.”


Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai Motor UK’s President and CEO offered the following:  “We are constantly striving to better understand what impacts people’s behaviour when they are driving and this research has certainly revealed some interesting, and somewhat surprising results.  By examining drivers’ emotions, our aim is to help them get a better drive both today and in the future.”

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Hyundai and Fagan have created the Driving Emotion Test (DET) to understand how outside stimuli effects driving. The experiment uses facial coding technology, eye tracking analysis, galvanic skin response and a heartrate monitor to record how specific stimuli impact emotions when driving. The results are then fed into specially-created software to provide subjects with a unique DET score.

Visitors to auto shows in the UK can take the Driving Emotion Test.


Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at