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Journal Article


Walker HEK, Trick LM. Safety Sci. 2019; 115: 121-130.


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






In the laboratory, emotional valence (positivity or negativity) and arousal (calmness or excitement) have been shown to have varying effects on attention and behaviour, but on the road these factors may have life or death consequences. It is not uncommon for drivers to be exposed to different types of roadside imagery, either on billboards or in roadside scenery. When looking at the impact of emotional images on driving, past studies have used paradigms that force drivers to look at stimuli, but in real life no one forces drivers to look at distracting roadside imagery. In this study, we looked at whether roadside images would draw the drivers' attention away from the road even when there was no reason (or instruction) to look at the images. We tested participants in a driving simulator to see how these images would affect performance (driving speed, steering, hazard response). Drivers were simply instructed to drive safely on a highway, observing the rules of the road. Periodically there were billboards, a portion of which displayed images taken from the International Affective Picture System (positive/high arousal, positive/low arousal, negative/high arousal, and negative/low arousal images), though some were controls (scrambled images with no thematic content). Analyses revealed main effects of Valence as well as Valence X Arousal interactions in terms of the extent to which drivers took notice of (and thus recalled) the images, and in driving performance (speed, steering, and hazard response).

RESULTS have implications for driver safety, road policy, and billboard design guidelines.

Language: en


Arousal; Attention; Billboards; Driving; Emotion; Valence


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