I know nothing about psychology beyond the introductory class I took in college in the 1970s. That said, and given the discussion in my post yesterday about the psychology of motorist anger, I want to propose this: People, in general, do not like being the focus of anger.
I believe, with nothing more than anecdotal evidence, that many bicyclists simply assume that the default attitude of most motorists toward bicyclists is anger. I, however, do not believe most motorists are angered by bicyclists. I have no idea what’s going on in the head of your average motorist as they travel from point A to point B unless said person communicates anger in some fashion (and subject, obviously, to my interpretation of said communication).
I want to propose a far more troubling attitude on the part of (all kinds of) vehicle drivers that we may want to pay more attention to: I call it a dangerous nexus of objectification, complacency, and hubris. To coin a term, let’s call it “objectibrisplacency.”
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time watching car crash videos, such as the one below, on YouTube. There are tons of these things because, apparently, people in Russia and other Eastern European and Near Eastern countries routinely run a dash cam (I assume for insurance purposes). While cultural differences in road behavior obviously play a role here (e.g. guessing alcohol, and, perhaps, uniquely European attitudes of social hierarchy), I think we can also learn some lessons about “objectibrisplacency.”
Here’s that I see: Time and time again people making terrible choices based upon objectifying other people, showing very little care for the danger they might be creating, and acting as if they are the by-god only road users who matter. Thus, “objectibrisplacency.”
I have worked very hard not to care about the rare outbursts of anger from motorists. As long as I am following the law, helping create a safe street environment, and showing appropriate courtesy to my fellow road users, I believe anger directed toward me is misplaced and safely to be ignored. And, yes, hard work to get to that point because of the psych 101 assertion I made to begin this short essay.
What worries me is “objectibrisplacency.” That’s what I have my eye out for anytime I’m driving any kind of vehicle.
When it comes right down to it, I’d trade anger for “objectibrisplacency” any day.