Motivation and emotion/Book/2015/Texting while driving motivation

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Texting while driving
What motivates texting while driving, what are the consequences and what can be done about it?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Text messaging has become so entrenched into the everyday lives of most people in first world countries that is a big inconvenience if individuals lost their mobile phones. Texting means using the Short Message Service (SMS) to send short typed messages between mobile devices, and has been one of the most common features in mobile phones since the late 1990s (Stavrinos et al., 2015). Texting has change[grammar?] the social interaction and communication between individuals. According to Stavrinos et al., (2015), in 2008, there were around 6.31 billion text messages in Western country[grammar?] per month. It seems that individuals quite enjoy using their fingers to do the talking. A study points out that female participants were more likely to keep the phone on all the time than males, because most of the men view it as a business tool (Stavrinos et al., 2015). They also pointed out that the mobile phone phenomena was more common among younger individuals, [grammar?] one of the reasons is that it offers privacy, so the messages are safe from prying ears, especially parents (Stavrinos et al., 2015). Therefore, it seems clear that text messaging provides a convenient way to help individuals to have private conversation in public and they are one of the most popular communication mediums, especially for business companies and younger individuals. Although some individuals believe that there are so some advantages in using text messaging, others believe that there are lists of drawbacks of using text messaging, especially texting while driving.

Demographic[edit | edit source]

Texting while driving is one of the most common problems in distracted driving, and it has gained attention around the world. According to Nemme, Heidi, White and Katherine (2010), in Australia, younger adults with the age groups of 18 to 24 and 25 to 39 years have the highest level of mobile phone use while driving. They also highlight that the age group between 18 to 24 had reported that they sent and received messages while driving (Nemme et al., 2010). This study showed that not only are younger adults more easily distatced[spelling?] by obile[spelling?] phones but they are more likely to adopt the use of the technology in the first place. It is very important to explore the motivations behind the texting and driving phenomenon as younger adults are regarded as the pillars of future society.

What psychological factors motivate texting while driving?[edit | edit source]

There are many theories that suggest reasons regarding the motivations to text while driving, and they are The theory of planned behavior, Social learning theory, Self-efficacy,Expectancy value theory, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs .

The theory of planned behaviour[edit | edit source]

The theory of planned behaviour is one of the theories that can explain the motivations people have to text while driving. This might relate to individuals belief that they have the ability to handle their behaviours and drive competently while driving. Drivers, specifically younger drivers, believe their driving abilities will not impaired by any distractions, including texting while driving, so they continue to engage in this dangerous behaviour over time, even though they recognize its associated risks (Ajzen, 2011). A study points out that there are three cognitive determinants that significantly relate to intentions. The primarily determinant is attitude, the secondary is perceived behavioural control, and the tertiary is social norms (Ajzen, 2011). So in this case, the attitude towards texting behaviour is positively valued. The secondary cognitive determinant, perceived behavioural control, is that the individual's perceive that it is easy to perform particular behaviours such as texting while drive. Social norms, the tertiary cognitive determinant, relates to an individual's perception about the particular behaviour, in this case texting behaviour, and the influences of judgment by significant others. That is, some people may see texting and driving in a positive light as parents and peers are always sending messages while driving[factual?]. So it is clear that individuals with this positive attitude are more likely to have an intention to text message while driving;[grammar?] however, this might also relate to psychosocial factors.

Social learning theory[edit | edit source]

Another motivation behind texting and driving can be explained by the social learning theory. According to Scott-Parker, Watson and King (2009), the social learning theory suggests that individuals can learn a behaviour through observing the behaviours of others, also known as modelling. This means that learning behaviour can occur by interactions with others. Although younger adults have the highest-level texting rate than the others[grammar?], this phenomenon may also relate to their parents and peers. According to Sherman, Lapidus, Gelven & Banco, (2004), there are multitudes of variables, such as parents, peers, schoolmates, and workmates, can have both positive and negative influences on drivers’ attitudes and behaviours throughout their driving lifetime[grammar?]. This shows why some drivers may perform the same behaviours they observe others do because they observe and learn new behaviours and skills from their model[grammar?]. In one study, 55% of teens aged from 14 to 17 years reported that they have been passengers in a car when the driver was texting, and they said that they did not worry because everyone did that (Madden & Lenhart, 2009). So it seems clear that the distracted driver may learn texting while driving from their peers and parents through their lifetime, and this may also influences their self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy[edit | edit source]

Sometimes,[grammar?] self-efficacy may influences individual’s[grammar?] behaviour and motivation. Self-efficacy is one’s belief in their ability to achieve a specific task successfully. There are four major sources of self-efficacy, including mastery experiences, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and emotion cues (Prat-Sala & Redford, 2010). Individuals keep text messaging while driving simply because they do not think car crash is going to happen. That is, a car crash is not a routine consequence of such behaviour. A study points out that if text messaging while driving has no adverse outcome, specifically car accident, individuals then will increase their self-efficacy (Widmeier, 2011). Being a passenger in a car where the driver is distracted is a bad example of high sense of self efficacy, because the driver shows that driving accidents is not always occur. This is the reason why individuals will have a strong sense of self-efficacy, especially confidence, in texting while driving. The degree of self-efficacy may also influence self-regulation. One study points out that a high degree of self-efficacy when multitasking, including using a cell phone, may lead people to perceive that laws are ineffective, prompting increased usage and lacking self-regulation (Cismaru, 2014). So if individuals have lower self-regulation they tend to make less adjustments to their behaviour such as texting while driving. A similar study about distractors and learners, also pointed out that high levels of self-regulation are likely to block out distractors in a learning environment; that is, they tend to play more attention in class, and avoid texting (Clayson & Haley, 2013). Thus, an individual with a higher level of self-efficacy will tend to make fewer adjustments to their behaviour, because they are less self-regulated. Although self-efficacy and self-regulation are quite important in this situation, Expectancy value theory is another theory that can explain the influences individuals have for texting while driving.

Expectancy value theory[edit | edit source]

Expectancy value theory is a theory that relates to value and expectancy. The expectancy component is the ability that individuals can have success in a given task, and the value component is the value of that success to the individual (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). For the expectancy, individuals may believe they have the ability of control when completing multiple tasks. For the value component, success on texting while driving is more valuable, because the text is meaningful for the individuals. Sometimes, when individuals send a text message they expect a reply immediately. Therefore, individuals may want to be more valuable to others which makes them more likely to reply to text messages, even whilst driving.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs[edit | edit source]

Self-esteem, also referred to self-image, is quite important to [grammar?]individual. Self-esteem can be built up from many specific behaviours and experiences, and it is one of the levels of needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. There are five different levels of needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, and they are physiological needs, safety needs, needs for love, affection, and belongingness, needs for esteem, and needs for self- actualization (Jerome, 2013). Texting while driving is related to love, belongingness and esteem on the two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs[factual?]. Individuals want to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation, so they turn to behaviours that show both the giving and receiving of love, affection and the sense of belonging to others (Jerome, 2013). Individuals seek a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others, so that they can feel self-confident and valuable as a person in the world (Jerome, 2013). Texting while driving is a good example of how someone may fulfil these two levels of needs. The reason is that when individuals reply to message immediately, it gives one a [grammar?] feel that they[grammar?] are respected and valuable as a person in the world and the needs of love and belonging are met. When the others feel that they are valuable, they will show respect in return, because respect goes both ways, and this can fulfil the need of self-esteem in Maslow’s Hierarchy. Therefore, not only does Maslow’s Theory of needs offer a perspective as to the reasons behind texting and driving, it also shows a positive of this type of behaviour. It seems that there are so many theories involved attempting to explain the behaviours of texting while driving, but is there any way that individuals can use mobile phones in a more patient manner?

Why may individuals be addicted to texting and driving?[edit | edit source]

Younger users spend more time using their cell phones than older users, and this may lead to individuals being more likely to experience mobile phone related problems, such as addiction. As has already been mentioned the needs of belonging and the needs of self-esteem are one of the motivations for texting while driving. However, self-esteem may also relate to texting becoming an addiction. A study points out, sometimes individuals with low self-esteem may have higher and problematic mobile phone use, because this is one form of escape from distressing situations (Bianchi & Phillips, 2005). Therefore, it might seem clear that for some younger adults, texting all the time, even when driving, may relate to low self-esteem[factual?].

What are the consequences?[edit | edit source]

It is widely known that texting while driving is dangerous, and it can have many impacts. Here are some of the examples:

  1. Slower reactions time and decision making
  2. Crash risks might increase
  3. Reduced awareness of the surroundings
  4. Lack of face to face communication with families and friends
  5. Maintenance of appropriate and predictable speed
  6. Mobile phone dependence
  7. Basic control problems (especially braking)

Overall, it is clear that texting while driving is a serious problem. It not only limits the chances of face-to-face interaction, but also it can slower or reduce the situational awareness of surrounding traffic. For example, a study points out that 58% of participants from Western country said that they do not worry about car accidents caused by message texting (Bianchi & Phillips, 2005). Another study shows that 37% of participants felt unwanted if their phone did not ring (Bianchi & Phillips, 2005). Therefore, it seems clear that texting while driving has an impact on humans’ psychosocial development, such as health safety and mental health.

What can be done about it?[edit | edit source]

Based on the above evidence, it clearly shows that the phenomenon of text messaging while driving is becoming very serious and it is a national epidemic. Actually, so there are many that can be done to reduce texting while driving, such as family, social, and economic aspects. Here are some of the examples:

  1. Lead by example
  2. Give clear instructions
  3. Become informed and be active

Family[edit | edit source]

First, in families, parents are one of the role models for safe driving, therefore, parents should not text and drive. Texting and driving will set a bad example for children and other observers. That is, drivers, especially younger adults, need to have safe driving examples from many sources especially from parents, because children mimic their parent’s behavior.

Government[edit | edit source]

Second, governments can educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving, especially for teens and new drivers, because they have the highest rates for texting while driving. For example, governments can use social media, especially advertisement, Facebook, and Twitter, to show the degree of danger that can occur if individuals engage in text messaging while driving. Having banners is another way to reduce texting while driving. For example, government can put posters around the road or near highways. Over time, it will be effective in persuading drivers and their awareness by using visual, audio instruments.

Fine[edit | edit source]

Third, using fine to punish those distracted drivers, because money is representing a valuables value for different individuals. For example, using a harsh monetary penalties will not only help in reducing the target behaviour but will also raise money to save more lives by reducing the number of distracted drivers.

Self-concept[edit | edit source]

Forth[spelling?], some self-concept strategies can be employed to reduce the number of people that text and drive. It appears that smartphones have become a trend and lots of people are using smartphones. Some strategies have been designed such as mobile phone applications. Individuals can download applications such as AT&T Drive Mode which is an app that turns on automatically when individuals are driving, and blocks incoming calls and texts. This will prevent distractions and disruptions so that individuals can concentrate on their driving.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The phenomenon of text messaging while driving is a learned behaviour, reinforced by seeing others do it. Although laws prohibit it and it impairs driver safety, text messaging while driving has become a cultural artefact in many countries, a national epidemic. Individuals who are disregard cultural norms in general are more likely to text while driving.

Quiz[edit | edit source]

1 Several studies point out that younger adults have the highest level of phone involvement in crashes


2 Why may individuals be addicted to texting and driving?

Because they love it
no ideas
Low self- esteem

3 What can be done about it? (Choose all that apply)

There is no way to avoid it now
Lead by example
Give clear instructions
Become informed and active

See also[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

References[edit | edit source]

Adeola, R., & Gibbons, M. (2013). Get the message: distracted driving and teens. Journal of trauma nursing, 20(3), 146-149.

Ajzen, I. (2011). The theory of planned behaviour: Reactions and reflections. Psychology & Health, 26(9), 1113 – 1127. doi:10.1080/08870446.2011.613995

Bianchi, A., & Phillips, J. G. (2005). Psychological predictors of problem mobile phone use. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 8(1), 39-51. Cismaru, M. (2014). Using the extended parallel process model to understand texting while driving and guide communication campaigns against it. Social Marketin Quarterly, 20(1), 66-82. doi:10.1177/1524500413517893

Clayson, D. E., & Haley, D. A. (2013). An Introduction to Multitasking and Texting Prevalence and Impact on Grades and GPA in Marketing Classes.Journal of Marketing Education, 35(1), 26-40.

Jerome, N. (2013). Application of the Maslow’s hierarchy of need theory; impacts and implications on organizational culture, human resource and employee’s performance. International Journal of Business and Management Invention, 2(3), 39-45.

Nemme, Heidi and White, Katherine M. (2010) Texting while driving : psychosocial influences on young people’s texting intentions and behaviour. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 42(4). pp. 1257-1265.

Prat-Sala, M., & Redford, P. (2010). The interplay between motivation, self-efficacy, and approaches to studying. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(Pt 2), 283.

Scott-Parker, B., Watson, B., & King, M. J. (2009) Understanding the psychosocial factors influencing the risky behaviour of young drivers. Transportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 12(6). pp. 470-482.

Sherman, K., Lapidus, G., Gelven, E., & Banco, L. (2004). New teen drivers and their parents: What they know and what they expect. American Journal of Health Behavior, 28(5), 387.

Stavrinos, D., Garner, A. A., Franklin, C. A., Johnson, H. D., Welburn, S. C., Griffin, R.. . Fine, P. R. (2015). Distracted driving in teens with and without attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Pediatric Nursing,30(5), e183.

Widmeier, K. (2011). Driving procedures keep providers safe on the road: Tips to ensure a safe ride for you & your patient. Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Retrieved March 24, 2012 from

Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy–value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 68-81.

External Links[edit | edit source]

The distracted mind

PSA Texting while Driving U.K. Ad

AT&T Don't Text While Driving Documentary