Bicyclist-evoked arousal and greater attention to bicyclists independently promote safer driving.
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While attention has consistently been shown to be biased toward threatening objects in experimental settings, our understanding of how attention is modulated when the observer is in an anxious or aroused state and how this ultimately affects behavior is limited. In real-world environments, automobile drivers can sometimes carry negative perceptions toward bicyclists that share the road. It is unclear whether bicyclist encounters on a roadway lead to physiological changes and attentional biases that ultimately influence driving behavior. Here, we examined whether participants in a high-fidelity driving simulator exhibited an arousal response in the presence of a bicyclist and how this modulated eye movements and driving behavior. We hypothesized that bicyclists would evoke a robust arousal and orienting response, the strength of which would be associated with safer driving behavior. The results revealed that encountering a bicyclist evoked negative arousal by both self-report and physiological measures. Physiological and eye-tracking measures were themselves unrelated, however, being independently associated with safer driving behavior. Our findings offer a real-world demonstration of how arousal and attentional prioritization can lead to adaptive behavior.
author list (cited authors)
Kim, A. J., Alambeigi, H., Goddard, T., McDonald, A. D., & Anderson, B. A.
complete list of authors
Kim, Andy Jeesu||Alambeigi, Hananeh||Goddard, Tara||McDonald, Anthony D||Anderson, Brian A