While men hit boiling point as they become increasingly irate about wasting time in grid lock, women relieve the pressure by singing along to the radio. I knew all the singing along to Take That at top volume really had a therapeutic value. At least, that is what I can now tell my husband when he tells me to stop caterwauling and to concentrate on the road.
Apparently, psychologists have measured the levels of stress chemicals in the saliva of volunteers sitting in heavy traffic – nice. Women stayed relatively cool and calm, of course, with their stress level rising by an average of just 8.7 per cent as they waited patiently behind the wheel.
Men, on the other hand, sped into a rage, with their levels of the same chemicals typically rocketing by 60 per cent.
Even more worrying was the fact that, despite this rise being enough to put pressure on the heart, cause dizziness and trigger breathing problems, many of them had no idea they were experiencing stress.
Apparently, one explanation for the difference between the sexes is that men are more reliant on the “fight or flight” response to stressful situations, which means they feel they either need to confront the problem or walk away from it. But when they are stuck behind the wheel, they can do neither and therefore get increasingly frustrated. I have long warned my husband that his stress levels are rising in the car as his cheeks start to turn an alarming shade of red... now I have the proof.
Women, it appears, are better at using simple methods of distraction, such as singing along to the radio to keep their stress levels down. No wonder you see so many women looking ridiculous doing their best Adele impression behind the wheel while their male counterparts are seething and breathless – I know which one I prefer, although the same might not be said for my kids. I have a feeling that the researchers didn’t have any volunteers who had children in their cars or I fear their findings may be been slightly different.
According to the man behind the survey for satnav manufacturer TomTom, psychologist David Moxon, frustration caused by traffic jams could also make men’s driving erratic and potentially dangerous – I wonder if all the male volunteers drove white vans?
“These findings make good evolutionary sense,” says Dr Moxon. And I agree. All this goes to prove what we women all know; women are the better and calmer drivers, so long as we as we are allowed to make fools of ourselves by singing away to Robbie Williams.