Conference Proceeding

Changing Driver Behavior Through Unconscious Stereotype Activation

  • Rob Gray (Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ)
  • Russ Branaghan (Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ)


Under the guise of evaluating a head-up display in a driving simulator, participants completed scrambled sentence tasks (while waiting at stop signs) designed to prime either an elderly or teenage stereotype. Driving speeds between stop signs in the Stereotype conditions were compared to Control conditions in which age non-specific words were substituted for stereotyped words. Participants had a lower maximum speed in the Elderly Stereotype condition and a higher maximum speed in the Teenage condition (as compared to controls). These effects were obtained even though the participants were completely unaware of the themes in the experimental conditions. For both stereotypes, the change in behavior occurred relatively quickly: a significant effect on driving speed was observed after only five stops. These findings indicate that it may be possible to reduce the incidence of dangerous driving behavior through the use of unconscious priming.

How to Cite:

Gray, R. & Branaghan, R., (2009) “Changing Driver Behavior Through Unconscious Stereotype Activation”, Driving Assessment Conference 5(2009), 104-109. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2009 the author(s)

Download pdf
View PDF



Published on
23 Jun 2009
Peer Reviewed