Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

The Influence of Argument on Driving Performance

Publication Date

Spring 3-31-2022


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Michael Oliver

Presentation Type




In 2020, despite a decrease in driving due to the pandemic, 40,000 Americans died in traffic accidents with a large portion being attributed to distracted driving (Together for Safer Roads). Distracted driving is commonplace in today’s society as most drivers have constant access to outside distractions such as cell phones, music, passengers, and more. The available attentional resources a person has decreases when completing tasks at the same time (Wickens, 2002). Studies have shown that multi-tasking while driving has been shown to disrupt driving performance (Hidalgo-Munoz et al., 2019). Additionally, experiencing emotions has also been theorized to cause the mind to wander and focus attention elsewhere (Chan & Singhal, 2015). Therefore, the current study examines whether emotionally charged auditory stimuli impairs driving performance. Participants are tested using a driving simulator while listening to an emotionally charged argument versus driving in silence. Findings of the current study may reveal that driving performance worsens when the driver listens to an argument versus driving in silence.

Keywords: driving performance, auditory distractions, emotion

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