Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Are billboards driving us to distraction?

15.02.2013
There's a billboard up ahead, a roadside sign full of language and imagery. Next stop: the emotionally distracted zone.
One University of Alberta researcher has discovered that language used on billboards can provoke an emotional response that affects our driving abilities. And whether the words have a negative or positive connotation seems to determine whether the attention wanders or the foot gets heavier.

Lead study author Michelle Chan says that although plenty of literature exists on road rage, none of it deals with external emotional stimuli. Chan and her U of A co-author, psychology professor Anthony Singhal, devised an experiment using a driving simulator. Participants drove through one of three scenarios that exposed them to 20 billboards on the course; each billboard contained blocks of words that were positive, negative or neutral in nature. They were also tested for response by having to push a button on the steering wheel when they encountered a target word.

"Studies have shown that when subjects see an emotional stimulus as opposed to a neutral one, they're slower in making reaction time responses and they're slower when doing a visual search," said Chan. "I wanted to see whether the results would carry over in driving—would we also find more distracted performance in driving?—and we did see that."

Emotionally charged words affected the subjects' driving focus, something that may make driving in real conditions hazardous. Chan says that subjects who viewed the negative words decreased travelling speed when passing the signs and tended to drift and veer from their lane. Conversely, drivers viewing the words with positive connotations sped up when passing the signs—a response the researchers said supported other research.

"There have been studies showing that when you're positively stimulated, your attention broadens, so you perform better when you're in a happy mood," said Chan. "In my results, we also saw that when we looked at the reaction-time data in response to target words, participants actually responded faster in the positive block than in the negative block."

Chan says a precedent already exists Down Under for dealing with this type of distraction, but some places may be harder to convince than others.

"In Australia they have really strict billboard criteria, but in the United States it's less so," she said. "When you're driving in Las Vegas, you'll see a bunch of profane billboards. There are also some really graphic anti-smoking billboards around."

Chan contends that emotional distraction while driving may come from anything from music to news to conversations, so it would be hard to legislate against those types of factors. Self-regulation on the images and language marketers use on billboards could be one way to reduce potential for emotionally related vehicular incidents.

Ultimately, she says, drivers need to take responsibility for their actions behind the wheel, even if it meets reducing the usual driving stimuli such as talking or listening to the radio.

"Any kind of distraction is risky when you're driving. But there would appear to be a larger risk when it comes to emotional stimuli."

Jamie Hanlon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>