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In your mind, does your car have a gender?
It's male.
It's female.
No, it's a car, not a person!
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Your Car's Personality Reveals a Secret

Who knew? Cars may be inanimate objects, but they have personalities. The characteristics you give your car--from gender to a name--reveal a secret about you, specifically your propensity for road rage.

Colorado State University psychology professor Jacob Benfield says knowing the personality of drivers' cars is a better indicator of how aggressive they will be on the road than knowing the drivers' own personalities, reports The Washington Post.

In this survey of 204 college students, all of whom owned a car, Benfield assessed the degree to which the students gave their cars human characteristics. The results were similar to previous research:

  • About 50 percent thought of their car as masculine or feminine.
  • About 25 percent named their cars.

Each student took a personality test that measured his or her propensity toward road rage and aggressive driving. Then they took the same test again, but this time, they were given these instructions: "Imagine that your vehicle had a personality. Now rate the following items based on the vehicle's personality."

The results? The students who thought of their vehicles as being male or female "scored significantly higher than non-gender-vehicle drivers on verbal aggression, physical aggression, use of vehicle, driving anger and pejorative labeling/verbally aggressive thinking," Benfield and his colleagues report in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

This is where it gets really interesting: The personalities of the drivers and the cars were not the same. In fact, "the perceived personality of the car sometimes was a better predictor of aggressive driving tendencies than the owner's personality," writes Post reporter Ricard Morin.

Example: People who think of their car as friendly are more likely to be polite drivers, even if they are not particularly friendly people themselves. "If people perceive their Corolla to be a jerk, they might drive more aggressively than if they thought their Mustang had a nice personality," Benfield told the Post. Naming the car had no effect on road rage tendencies.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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