Naturalistic studies of aggressive behavior: aggressive stimuli, victim visibility, and horn honking

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1975 Jun;31(6):1098-107. doi: 10.1037/h0076960.


Three studies extended laboratory research on aggression to a naturalistic setting which involved horn honking from drivers as a measure of aggression; the studies were adapted from Doob and Gross. The results from a survey (Study 1) of 59 drivers suggested that they were frequently irritated by and aggressive toward other drivers. A second study (using a 3x2 factorial design with 92 male drivers) indicated that manipulations of a rifle in an aggressive context and victim visibility (dehumanization) both significantly influenced horn honking rates subsequent to obstruction at a signal light. A third study with 137 male drivers and 63 female drivers examined the interactive effects of a rifle, an aggressively connotated bumper sticker, and individual subject characteristics (sex and an exploratory index of self-perceived status) on horn honking. The results for three studies in naturalistic settings offer possible extensions of laboratory based findings on aggression. The role of inhibitions in modifying the pattern of results was also discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Anger
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Female
  • Frustration
  • Hierarchy, Social
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Male
  • Noise
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Perception*