Certain psychological aspects of seat belt wearing were investigated, the aim being to explain driving behavior in terms of underlying attitudes. The rationale of the study methodology was that observable behavior is mediated by psychological systems involving factors such as opinions, attitudes, values, and emotions. Implications of this rationale are that behavior can only be understood when intangible and subjective psychological systems mediating it are identified; attempts to change overt reactions without examining the source of motivation may cause public resentment and resistance to change. Interviews were initially conducted with relevant experts to obtain some official opinions. Members of the public were later interviewed in a group setting, using varied techniques derived from such sources as psychoanalytic theory, T-group procedures, and objective psychology. Based on these interviews, a schedule was constructed and administered in semistructured interviews with a small random sample of the public. A questionnaire focusing on people's opinions of seat belts, their stereotypes of habitual seat belt users, and their reactions to pressure to buckle up was also constructed. It was administered to 465 residents in Regina, Sask., Canada, a sample containing 198 males and 267 females ranging in age from 16 to 87 years; 90% had seat belts in the car in which they drove or rode as a passenger and 43% had both lap and shoulder harnesses. Only 39 out of the 465 residents claimed they always used their seat belts. Just over half the respondents reported using their seat belts at least some of the time. There was a substantial correlation between level of seat belt use in city and highway driving. Attitudes toward seat belts were highly favorable, despite the relatively low level of actual use reported. Three seat belt user groups were discerned: 8.3% who were very enthusiastic about seat belts and claimed they always used them; 10% who opposed seat belts under any circumstances; and people who were aware of seat belts' benefits and wanted to see them worn more. Analysis of a 55-item questionnaire yielded five interpretable factors (safety consciousness, desire for security, conscientiousness and habit, and two factors concerning specific questions such as whether seat belts are effective and whether their design is adequate). Analysis of a 41-item questionnaire measuring stereotypes of habitual seat belt users showed an overwhelming tendency for these users to be stereotyped as good people. Most respondents stated they would fasten their seat belts if the driver of a vehicle in which they were a passenger insisted they do so.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Sponsored by Canadian Ministry of Transport. Includes French summary.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Sage Publications Limited

    28 Banner Street
    London,   England 
  • Authors:
    • Cropley, A J
    • Knapper, C K
    • Moore, R J
  • Publication Date: 0

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00394106
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-026 996U
  • Files: HSL, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 31 1985 12:00AM