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      01-31-2020, 08:12 AM   #1
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New Finnish study confirms that BMW and Audi owners drive like idiots

New Finnish study confirms that BMW and Audi owners drive like idiots


Lloyd Alter lloydalter
January 29, 2020

Not only that, they are "argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic." And all men.

Whenever I see the most egregious behaviour by drivers, they are often in BMWs, Mercedes or Audis. This isn't a new phenomenon; I wrote about it a few years ago in Study reveals the obvious: The rich are different from you and me, especially behind the wheel, which measured their behaviour at four-way stops and pedestrian crosswalks.

Now a new study (which we can't actually quote the title of in TreeHugger, as it breaks our rules) confirms our prejudices. A Finnish professor of social psychology found that "Audi and BMW drivers seemed much more likely to ignore traffic regulations and drive recklessly." He's quoted in the University of Helsinki's Newsletter:

“I had noticed that the ones most likely to run a red light, not give way to pedestrians and generally drive recklessly and too fast were often the ones driving fast German cars,” says Jan-Erik Lönnqvist of the University of Helsinki’s Swedish School of Social Science.

Unlike the research described in our previous post, done by logging cars in the street, Lönnqvist asked a lot of questions about why people are drawn to these cars and what kind of people they were.

To gain answers, researchers carried out a study of Finnish consumers. A total of 1,892 car owners answered not only questions about their car, consumption habits and wealth, but also questions exploring personality traits. The answers were analysed using the Five‐Factor Model, the most widely used framework for assessing personality traits in five key domains (openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness). The answers were unambiguous: self-centred men who are argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic are much more likely to own a high-status car such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes.

But what is most interesting is that in the previous research, the conclusion was that "many rich people have a sense of entitlement and don't think the rules apply to them," that being rich made them jerks. Lönnqvist comes to a different conclusion: They were jerks first, who got rich.

He points out that money is, of course, necessary to buy high-status products, which is why rich people are more likely to drive high-status cars. “But we also found that those whose personality was deemed more disagreeable were more drawn to high-status cars. These are people who often see themselves as superior and are keen to display this to others.”

This point is confirmed by the fact that another group likes to drive expensive cars: people who are rich, but also "respectable, ambitious, reliable and well-organised." And where the jerks are all men, the conscientious types are belong to both sexes. This is where I believe his methodology breaks down; it doesn't look at how these respectable and conscientious types actually drive. I have been cut off by lots of women in BMWs. Lönnqvist, who is turning into a modern-day Thorstein Veblen, concludes:

It would be great if consumers had other, sustainable ways of showing their status rather than the superficial consumption of luxury goods that often has negative consequences. We are already seeing that driving an electric car is becoming something of a status symbol, whereas SUVs with their high emissions are no longer considered as cool.
Alas, I have seen so many jerks in Teslas; it attracts both the conscientious and the disagreeable. Perhaps we could sell them on really expensive e-bikes.
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      01-31-2020, 08:24 AM   #2
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Motor Mouth: Not only assholes drive Mercedes

Motor Mouth: Not only assholes drive Mercedes

Who would've thought that self-centred men “are much more likely to own a high-status car such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes?”
by DAVID BOOTH | 2 HOURS AGO

A Mercedes-Benz parked in a questionably courteous manner at a downtown Toronto parking garage.Nick Tragianis / Driving

Pretty catchy title, eh? Now, I know what more than a few of you Mercedes-Benz owners are thinking; just one more case of outrageous click-baiting by a desperate MSM. And almost certainly Mercedes-Benz itself is thinking libel; the tarnishing of its great name — even by inference — cannot stand unchallenged.

Except for one thing. The above is not a headline, but rather a quote. More emphatically, it’s the actual title of a scientific paper published in the International Journal of Psychology by the Swedish School of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. And according to the press material surrounding this (only slightly) contentious conclusion, Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, professor of social psychology, has made the same anecdotal conclusion about Audi and BMW drivers as well, namely that owners of German luxury cars are more likely to drive recklessly and ignore traffic laws. “I had noticed that the ones most likely to run a red light, not give way to pedestrians, and generally drive recklessly and too fast were often the ones driving fast German cars,” says Lönnqvist. Who amongst us hasn’t made the same observation?

The difference is that Lönnqvist is a university professor of social science at a school of social science in a country that prides itself on, well, social equality. So, he did what any professional social justice warrior would do; he authored a study of 1,892 car owners in a Five Factor Model — measuring openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness — to determine whether wealth and personality traits affect driving habits. The conclusions were hardly surprising: “Self-centred men who are argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic are much more likely to own a high-status car such as an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes.” Making sure that we don’t mistake his conclusions, Lönnqvist goes on to say “these personality traits explain the desire to own high-status products, and the same traits also explain why such people break traffic regulations more frequently than others.”

Now, the study posits all manner reasons for their misbehaviour. Much of it sounds a little like psycho-babble to a pedestrian like me, but the authors seem to blame narcissism — more specifically, the Disinhibited variety (unrestrained, low-frustration tolerance, aggression and antagonism toward people, social norms and obligations) and the Sensation-Seeking (impulsive, stimulation seeking) — for this flouting of traffic laws. Indeed, the trait from the Five Factor Model examination the authors seem to focus on is “agreeableness,” saying it “has been inversely associated with aggressive driving behaviour, moving violations, motor vehicle accidents and losses of vehicular control” and that those scoring especially low in agreeableness much preferred prestigious brands.

Now, defenders of the (rich) faith will no doubt note that the cost of the average high-status automobile necessitates a certain degree of wealth, and be tempted to blame such poor driving habits on the corruptive powers of wealth. Lönnqvist nips that notion in the bud, pointing out that “a high-status car is not only indicative of high socio-economic status [i.e., you have enough money to afford a luxury car], but also of underlying personality traits. This means that the often-observed associations between driving a high-status car and unethical driving behaviour may not be due to the corruptive effects of high social class, but rather due to the underlying personality traits that dispose certain people to purchase high-status cars.” More importantly, the study concluded “those whose personality was deemed more disagreeable were more drawn to high-status cars. These are people who often see themselves as superior and are keen to display this to others.” In other words, a large number of the people who drive Mercedes are “assholes.” BMW and Audi, too.

Now, the researchers did find some countervailing evidence. The second part of the study’s title is Besides disagreeable men, also conscientious people drive high-status cars. Indeed, according to Lönnqvist, conscientious people — who are, as a rule, respectable, ambitious, reliable and well-organized — are also drawn to high-status cars: “The link is presumably explained by the importance they attach to high quality. All makes of car have a specific image, and by driving a reliable car they are sending out the message that they themselves are reliable,” says the professor. One telling aspect of this second demographic was these conscientious types included both male and female owners of high-status automobiles. In contrast, the study took great pains to point out that the connection between self-centred personalities and high-status cars was only found amongst men, Lönnqvist positing that cars simply do not have the same significance as status symbols for women.

One could, if one felt insulted, try to blow holes in Lönnqvist’s study. It was, after all, conducted solely on Finnish men, and it could be possible — however unlikely — only male Finnish luxury car owners are self-centred narcissists (for the record, I think this is one that we males have to take on the chin). One could even find fault in Lönnqvist’s casual anecdote that electric luxury cars are becoming positive status symbols, when in fact, Tesla owners repeatedly prove themselves the least “agreeable” motorists on the planet.

Still, who of us has not ascribed a certain lack of modesty or humbleness among the owners of luxury automobiles? At least now, we would seem to have some scientific proof.
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      01-31-2020, 08:55 AM   #3
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I've driven about 5,000km in Finland. They are extraordinarily polite people and polite drivers. They would likely consider "aggressive" to be changing lanes within 100 meters of another car, or only flashing the signal 3 times instead of 5 or 6. What's "aggressive" in Finland would be very conservative in Rome or Mexico City.

I agree with the psychological tenets of the article, so I won't re-hash them.

Also, a driving maneuver that's "risky" or "reckless" for my 80-year-old mother would be child's play for me, and likely many of the other BP-ers. What's risky for me might be routine for an F1 driver. Risk is relative to the skill of the driver.
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      01-31-2020, 08:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pennsiveguy View Post
I've driven about 5,000km in Finland. They are extraordinarily polite people and polite drivers. They would likely consider "aggressive" to be changing lanes within 100 meters of another car, or only flashing the signal 3 times instead of 5 or 6. What's "aggressive" in Finland would be very conservative in Rome or Mexico City.

I agree with the psychological tenets of the article, so I won't re-hash them.

Also, a driving maneuver that's "risky" or "reckless" for my 80-year-old mother would be child's play for me, and likely many of the other BP-ers. What's risky for me might be routine for an F1 driver. Risk is relative to the skill of the driver.
I posted these, not because I agree with them FTR. Lots of talk on the radio this morning about this study and they all went to culture in Finland as being a mitigating factor on the outcome/views of this study.....
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      01-31-2020, 09:15 AM   #5
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Likely true in Finland. I would say true in the US as well but you need to put Hellcat, Mustang and Camaro owners in front of the Germans. Everyone else follows after that (not counting exotics).
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      01-31-2020, 09:19 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SteveinArizona View Post
Likely true in Finland. I would say true in the US as well but you need to put Hellcat, Mustang and Camaro owners in front of the Germans. Everyone else follows after that (not counting exotics).
I think it's more about the type of person and the car.....lets face it aggressive/assertive drivers probably don't by Fiat 500 or a minivan. Mind you if I was in one I'd drive the shit out of it, but I wouldn't buy one.
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      01-31-2020, 09:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty Dog View Post
I posted these, not because I agree with them FTR. Lots of talk on the radio this morning about this study and they all went to culture in Finland as being a mitigating factor on the outcome/views of this study.....
The Finns are super conservative drivers. If not, they wouldn't have voted to have speeding ticket fines to be based on your income. Not sure how that would work for a foreigner, but I can assure you that I drive like Mother Teresa any time I'm there.
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      01-31-2020, 09:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Salty Dog View Post
I think it's more about the type of person and the car.....lets face it aggressive/assertive drivers probably don't by Fiat 500 or a minivan. Mind you if I was in one I'd drive the shit out of it, but I wouldn't buy one.
Same here. I borrowed my mom's CRV to run an errand while I was visiting her a couple months back. It was on 2 wheels most of the time.
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      01-31-2020, 09:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by pennsiveguy View Post
Same here. I borrowed my mom's CRV to run an errand while I was visiting her a couple months back. It was on 2 wheels most of the time.
I dated a girl with a CR-V years ago. She was away with her roller derby team doing a tournament so I had her car. I was out one day with the dog & got to a light next to another CR-V. The dude in the CR-V tried to race me so I stomped him. I have issues.
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      01-31-2020, 11:13 AM   #10
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What doesn't make sense to me in the comparison of the 2 psychological profiles is that "argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic" is not at all mutually exclusive with conscentiousness ie. "respectable, ambitious, reliable and well-organized"

The idea that people who are rich enough act like rules don't apply to them isn't controversial - it's just human nature. When you get treated for long enough like you are above some rules, you start unconsciously feeling entitled to that standard.

On the other hand I'd love to see some research on what makes some people buy the largest truck they can and then equip it with the biggest flashlights possible
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      01-31-2020, 11:20 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by arashir View Post
What doesn't make sense to me in the comparison of the 2 psychological profiles is that "argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic" is not at all mutually exclusive with conscentiousness ie. "respectable, ambitious, reliable and well-organized"
...
Agreed. Seems like there's some reductionism afoot, to split people into "nice people" and "assholes." Makes it easier to heap scorn on the assholes.
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      01-31-2020, 11:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by arashir View Post
What doesn't make sense to me in the comparison of the 2 psychological profiles is that "argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic" is not at all mutually exclusive with conscentiousness ie. "respectable, ambitious, reliable and well-organized"

The idea that people who are rich enough act like rules don't apply to them isn't controversial - it's just human nature. When you get treated for long enough like you are above some rules, you start unconsciously feeling entitled to that standard.

On the other hand I'd love to see some research on what makes some people buy the largest truck they can and then equip it with the biggest flashlights possible
So I was listening to a talk show and they were talking about this study and then then host quoted a study out of the University of Michigan that looked at 6.5 million collisions in the USA. 40% of the driving in done by women and they are involved in 68% of the collisions.....

Discuss amongst yourselves.....
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      01-31-2020, 11:34 AM   #13
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Ah, the same thing can be said about Mustang, Ford F150, and most SUV drivers.

What do the Finnish know?
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      01-31-2020, 11:45 AM   #14
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Around here, assholes come in cars of all shapes and sizes, as well as value. In fact, most of the German cars I see on the road tend to be the opposite of what I'd call aggressive and/or rude...except for this one tool in a hopped up Mini(do those count as German?), he's a prick.
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      01-31-2020, 01:04 PM   #15
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Can confirm, BMW stereotype here.

Idk why you guys are taking this personally, just embrace it. When you drive such a capable car you subconsciously feel like a very confident driver. These cars like to be driven fast.
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      01-31-2020, 01:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pennsiveguy View Post
Agreed. Seems like there's some reductionism afoot, to split people into "nice people" and "assholes." Makes it easier to heap scorn on the assholes.
exactly, I always feel like people are a lot more complicated than how these sorts of articles or studies try to frame them.

There are all kinds of bad assumptions people make about driving behavior when they don't consider things beyond the surface level.

For example, it seems to be a really common and unfortunate meme that you don't want to give people notice too far in advance of your intent with a turn signal because then they'll just move into the gap you wanted to use. This is 1000% not my experience at least in my city, and usually the people who have this offense approach don't even try to see what happens if they give other people plenty of notice.

My experience is, most people would much rather know your intentions ahead of time, even better if you give them like 3-5 seconds to process it, so they are ready to give you right of way. What people in fact don't like, justifiably, is making sudden moves that take the right of way away from them, that block their view and the space in front of them before they're ready for it, and using your turn signal 250 milliseconds before you start your move is effectively the same as zero warning.

It might sound crazy to blink several times before you make your move, but once I started driving that way I found 90% of people responded very kindly, and the 10% that take advantage of that are just ignoramuses that are probably beyond help. I will take that trade all day long. You get what you put out.
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      01-31-2020, 01:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by arashir View Post
exactly, I always feel like people are a lot more complicated than how these sorts of articles or studies try to frame them.

There are all kinds of bad assumptions people make about driving behavior when they don't consider things beyond the surface level.

For example, it seems to be a really common and unfortunate meme that you don't want to give people notice too far in advance of your intent with a turn signal because then they'll just move into the gap you wanted to use. This is 1000% not my experience at least in my city, and usually the people who have this offense approach don't even try to see what happens if they give other people plenty of notice.

My experience is, most people would much rather know your intentions ahead of time, even better if you give them like 3-5 seconds to process it, so they are ready to give you right of way. What people in fact don't like, justifiably, is making sudden moves that take the right of way away from them, that block their view and the space in front of them before they're ready for it, and using your turn signal 250 milliseconds before you start your move is effectively the same as zero warning.

It might sound crazy to blink several times before you make your move, but once I started driving that way I found 90% of people responded very kindly, and the 10% that take advantage of that are just ignoramuses that are probably beyond help. I will take that trade all day long. You get what you put out.
I know exactly what you mean about sudden lane changes, versus asking to be let in using the turn signal. I almost always ask to be let in, and I almost always let someone in. After all, somebody let me in, right? The exception to letting people in comes when I notice someone is obviously slow or distracted, or often both. If I can block them from getting in front of me without trading paint, I will. I'm an attentive driver with shit to do and the horsepower to get it done. I'm not about to get stuck behind some pokey, dopey fuck doing 50 mph down a freeway with all the other lanes whizzing by at 80. It's usually somebody fucking around on their phone. I figure if they've got better things to do than drive, despite being behind the wheel of a car, they belong behind me. I make sure they stay there.
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      01-31-2020, 02:13 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pennsiveguy View Post
I know exactly what you mean about sudden lane changes, versus asking to be let in using the turn signal. I almost always ask to be let in, and I almost always let someone in. After all, somebody let me in, right? The exception to letting people in comes when I notice someone is obviously slow or distracted, or often both. If I can block them from getting in front of me without trading paint, I will. I'm an attentive driver with shit to do and the horsepower to get it done. I'm not about to get stuck behind some pokey, dopey fuck doing 50 mph down a freeway with all the other lanes whizzing by at 80. It's usually somebody fucking around on their phone. I figure if they've got better things to do than drive, despite being behind the wheel of a car, they belong behind me. I make sure they stay there.
I agree. I will let folks in so long as they haven't been hogging the road.
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      01-31-2020, 08:01 PM   #19
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It's the exhaust. If I'm driving the M6, I tend to be a little more aggressive than the other cars. Driving in electric mode in the i8 makes me as docile as a house cat.

On lane changing I always point the nose and signal simultaneously.
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      02-02-2020, 07:33 AM   #20
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This “study” was more of an op-Ed, with a predictable outcome.

When I was a kid, my parents hated people in nice cars. They’re jealousy vented into “don't they think they’re special”, or “show offs”...
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      02-02-2020, 08:14 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by pennsiveguy View Post
Risk is relative to the skill of the driver.
Actual or perceived skill? We all know how that works.
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      02-02-2020, 08:46 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FuriouslyFast View Post
I dated a girl with a CR-V years ago. She was away with her roller derby team doing a tournament so I had her car. I was out one day with the dog & got to a light next to another CR-V. The dude in the CR-V tried to race me so I stomped him. I have issues.
I do this with my wife's minivan all the time, surprised i won a TC, and a Malibu haha.
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