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 Tile Based DASH Streaming for Virtual Reality with HEVC from Fraunhofer HHI
03.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik Heinrich-Hertz-Institut

nachricht Product placement: Only brands placed very prominently benefit from 3D technology
07.07.2016 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>