Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 93–111

Explaining Seemingly Paradoxical Consumer Experiences: Conjoining Weekly Road Rage and Church Attendance

Authors

    • Department of Leisure and Recreation ManagementAsia University
  • Arch G. Woodside
    • Department of Marketing, Carroll School of ManagementBoston College
  • Drew Martin
    • College of Business and EconomicsUniversity of Hawai’i at Hilo
Psychological Exploration

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-013-9759-1

Cite this article as:
Gau, L., Woodside, A.G. & Martin, D. J Relig Health (2015) 54: 93. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9759-1

Abstract

The purposes of the current study are threefold: Provide evidence that an extreme paradoxical group exists—people frequently attending church and exhibiting road rage, profile this group, and frame possible explanations for the seemingly paradoxical behaviors. This study employs data from a national (USA) lifestyle survey conducted by Market Facts with 3,350 American respondents. The major questions asked about church participation and road-rage behavior (“giving a finger” and “flashing headlights”). Nomologically, relevant activities include 3 items for church goers and 3 items for road-rage givers. Additionally, 14 items profiled the lifestyles of the unique paradoxical behavior segment. Utilizing cross-tabulation tables, property space analyses identify the double extreme (XX) group (18 people) and other 6 groups with a significant chi-square test, confirming the extreme group exists. Analyses of variance test results show that comparing nomologically relevant activities among the seven groups is all statistically significant, indicating the nomological validity is met. Overall, the XX group tends to have more males, be younger, and have a higher proportion of people working in sales. The profile of lifestyle analyses shows the XX group members have both high ambitions and expectations, might be very frustrated individuals, and equip with the adventurous and masculine traits related to aggression. The XX behavior group’s demographic and psychographic characteristics portray similar lifestyles that differ from other groups. Case-based analyses provide further contextual information of nuances to XX segment individuals. The limited energy theory, the Eagleman’s theory of unconscious mind, and justification theory help to explain why people conjointly go to church and commit road rage. Addressing chronic paradoxical behaviors provides implications for social de-marketing to reduce aggressive anti-social behavior such as road rage. Frequent church attendance may help make people more sensitive to their wrongdoings and gradually revise the anti-social behavior.

Keywords

Paradoxical behaviorLimited energy theoryUnconscious mindJustification theoryRoad rage

Introduction

The world outside and inside is sometimes paradoxical. Female athletes struggle between inherently masculine culture of sports and socially expected femininity as a woman (Krane et al. 2004). At the heart of every wife, her need could be a paradox. For example, a wife desires her husband that works hard to buy her luxuries; however, she also wants him available (not working all the time). In the newest consumption trends, products satisfying consumers’ paradoxical needs might be the most successful (Evans 2005). Mass customization, healthy indulgence, and the comeback of Old Spice (men’s aftershave brand) are examples (Evans 2005; Waters 2007).

Coupling church going weekly and chronic road rage represents another curious paradox. People frequently attending church or other religious ceremony often are described as nice, gentle, and polite. On the other hand, drivers committing road rage exhibit rude, aggressive, and impolite behavior. Can these two behaviors be wrapped into the same person? Do these church going, road maniacs really exist and what else do we know about them? Given any possible explanations, the link between religiousness and behavioral well-being might be improved in an even higher level (McCullough and Willoughby 2009).

Prior studies suggest failure of self-control (Gailliot et al. 2007; Vohs and Faber 2007), affection (Waters 2007), and unconscious emotions (Eagleman 2007), explain aggression, impulse buying, paradoxical consumer needs, and unconscious behaviors, and provide coping strategies for some possible resulting consequences such as ambivalence (Otnes et al. 1997) and cognitive dissonance of a hypocritical behavior (Stone et al. 1997). Some people interpret this paradox positively and consider such behavior as the power to be more creative with unbounded thinking (Woodhead 2006).

These theories and concepts might explain temporary paradoxical behaviors, but they follow similar reasoning to help explain why people commit paradoxical behaviors chronically (e.g., attending church and exhibiting road rage). The current study contributes to limited consumer behavior knowledge by addressing chronic paradoxical behaviors and providing implications for social de-marketing as well as crafting intervention programs to reduce aggressive anti-social behavior such as road rage (see Woodside 2008).

The current study focuses on three main issues. First, this study provides evidence that an extreme paradoxical group exists—people frequently attending church and exhibiting road rage. Second, the results help profile this group, describing their demographics and psychographics. These insights help frame possible explanations for the seemingly paradoxical behaviors—the study’s third purpose.

Background

Before discussing possible explanations for paradoxical behaviors, the following sections provide brief information about the correlates of paradoxical behaviors, use property space analyses, and apply extremely frequent behavior theory to develop hypotheses for testing the existence of the group with such paradoxical behavior as going church and doing road rage most weeks.

Paradoxical Behavior

Freud’s ego theory suggests people struggle between fulfilling needs and their ethical values. Although aggressive impulses such as road rage may not represent human nature, societal pressures such as social norms, morals, laws, and other rules and regulations encourage behavioral self-control (DeWall et al. 2007). Following individual ethical judgment, a rational person does not just follow their impulses as a guide to behavior. Self-control links a broad range of desirable outcomes including greater interpersonal relationships, reduced aggression, and less susceptibility to impulsive consumption, alcohol abuse, addictive gambling, and eating disorder (Gailliot et al. 2007; Hirschman 1992; Perfetto and Woodside 2009).

When self-control fails, impulsive needs may overcome ethical values, urging paradoxical unwanted behaviors and causing conflicts such as cognitive dissonance and ambivalent emotion (Arnould and Thompson 2005; Otnes et al. 1997). Like “willpower,” energy or resources for self-regulation or self-control may be limited (Baumeister et al. 2007; Vohs and Faber 2007). Once prior acts or activities of self-control or pro-social behaviors consume energy, this result impairs the performance of subsequent self-control attempts. Seemingly, the ability to self-regulate behavior weakens as if the energy has been used up (Baumeister et al. 2006; Gailliot et al. 2007). People frequently attending church exert self-control to regulate behavior to meet the church norms. This action creates a temporary ego depletion state, resulting in self-regulatory breakdowns in other spheres such as being rude in driving. The self-control failure due to limited energy theory provides a plausible explanation for paradoxical behavior.

Like ice hidden below the water’s surface, the human desire resides unconsciously inside the mind. The human brain’s cerebral cortex contains about 30 billion neurons forming a vast network of 1 million billion connections creating neural circuits stimulating conscious and unconscious behavior (Carpenter 2000). Substantial evidence supports the proposition that most thinking occurs unconsciously (for reviews see Bargh 2002; Wegner 2002; Wilson 2002; Zaltman 2003). This research is ecologically based on the premise that events in the environment trigger goals and direct behavior completely outside of a person’s unconscious awareness.

Studies examining the brain’s automaticity describe these phenomena (Bargh et al. 2001; also see Gladwell 2005). The concept of unconscious mind provides another possible explanation for the contradiction of the behaviors (Eagleman 2007). Eagleman (2011) suggests contradictory behavior stems from the human brain’s amalgamation of competitive subsections. Frustrations stemming from daily life compete unconsciously with conscious desires to be a good person, resulting in paradoxical behavior. People attending church and committing road rage fail to consciously recognize their paradoxical behavior. They mentally compartmentalize their behaviors to prevent the perception of conflicts.

Although outsiders might view people who both attend church and exhibit road rage as contradictory or hypocritical people, these group members might cognitively justify these behaviors with the support of ethical values. Possibly they develop their own reasoning and create appropriate explanations to feel comfortable with their contrasting behaviors. These two behaviors together are both consciously perceived, harmonious, or at least individually justifiable. Justification theory offers the third plausible explanation for this extreme, paradoxical behavior (Steup 2011).

Perhaps these paradoxical behavior modes make people perceive conflicts and feel uncomfortable. On the one hand, the implicit desire urges the hidden need for unethical behavior. On the other hand, the ethical ego discourages questionable behavior. Balancing these countervailing forces leads to various coping strategies to reduce the dissonance and ambivalence (Arnould and Thompson 2005; Stone et al. 1997; Mick and Fournier 1998). The direct strategy is to avoid committing the paradoxical behavior again. If the action results from poor self-control, better self-discipline is necessary. An indirect strategy justifies the behavior by good reasoning or by external attribution (Krieglmeyer et al. 2009). For society’s well-being, outside intervention may be required to reduce the anti-social behavior, particularly when the behaviors are unconsciously conducted or socially undesired.

Consider at least one caution about direct confrontation. Causing people to confront their unconscious and embarrassing paradoxes sometimes results in a mental breakdown. For example, consider The Changeling, Episode 37, in the original Star Trek TV series:

Captain Kirk convinces Nomad (a damaged, self-repaired, floating robot who wants to sterilize everything that is in error) that it had mistaken him, Captain James T. Kirk, for Nomad’s creator, Jackson Roykirk, thus making Nomad imperfect and a candidate for “sterilization.” A confused Nomad begins to self-destruct, exploding just after Kirk beams the changeling into space.

Before conducting research for developing effective coping strategies to manage seemingly paradoxical behavior, a useful first step to take may be (1) to examine whether the segment of the group with the conjunction of such paradoxical behaviors exists and (2) to profile the group members in the description of their demographics and attitudes, interests, and opinions (AIOs). The present study first focuses on these two objectives.

The Group with Two Incongruent Extremely Frequent Behaviors (EFB)

Property space analysis (Lazarsfeld and Barton 1965; Perfetto and Woodside 2009; Woodside 2008) identifies the group exhibiting paradox in two incongruent extremely frequent behaviors: going church weekly and committing road rage frequently (every 2 or 3 weeks). The component attributes of road-rage behavior and church participation are arrayed in columns and rows to construct an associated property space like a contingency table (see Fig. 1; Table 1).
Table 1

The cross-table of attending church by exhibiting road rage

https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10943-013-9759-1/MediaObjects/10943_2013_9759_Tab1_HTML.gif

Each cell in the space or in the table captures a possible grouping of the attributes, indicating the extreme group (Group 7) of heavy participants (XX) or other groups of consumers not or infrequently engaging in the two conjoined behaviors. The focus of the current study is the unique segment (i.e., the XX group 7). The XX group members chronically engage in the two paradoxical behavior modes. Most people in other groups do not engage in either behavior, or engage one or the other but rarely both of them. Comparing the extreme group to other groups provides nomological evidence of the group’s existence (Woodside 2008) and profiles descriptive information for further possible explanations as to why the group exists.

The property space analysis shows groups by the frequency of attending church or other places for worship over the last 12 months and frequency of engaging road-rage behavior annually (Fig. 1). Statistical analyses might show outliers or contradictory cases, which might be mistaken or biased. However, these seemly atypical cases are not necessarily so. For example, the 911 tragedy shows extremist behavior exists. The property space analysis table identifies the existence of the extreme cases who report chronically engaging in road rage (“giving a finger” and “flashing headlights”) and going church weekly. The extreme paradoxical group does exist, but the frequency is small (only 18 people, 0.55 %) (see Tables 1, 2).
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10943-013-9759-1/MediaObjects/10943_2013_9759_Fig1_HTML.gif
Fig. 1

Property space configuration for attending church or other place of worship (frequency last 12 months) and road-rage behavior (times annually)

Table 2

Number of people and percentage in each group

Group

People

%

Group 1: No church and no road rage

442

13.59

Group 2: Church sometimes and no road rage

783

24.08

Group 3: Church every week and no road rage

516

15.87

Group 4: Some road rage

1,341

41.24

Group 5: No church and extreme road rage

58

1.78

Group 6: Church sometimes and extreme road rage

94

2.89

Group 7: Church every week and extreme road rage

18

0.55

Total

3,252

100

Utilizing cross-tabulation tables, property space analyses reflect the contingent relationships among groups to provide nomological evidence of an extreme group. The current study compares the extreme groups with other groups and uses subjunctive statements to describe a set of relevant activities the extreme group members more likely participate than people in other groups (Ragin 2000; Woodside 2008). Examining the average participation of the extreme groups in activities that likely relate to church attendance or road rage provides nomological validity supporting that the extreme group exists.

Nomological validity indicates significant relationships exist among a set of relevant behaviors fitting a priori expectations (Gau and Woodside 2011; Peter 1981; Woodside 2008). Church goers’ nomologically relevant activities might include beneficent and pro-social behaviors (e.g., doing volunteer work). Among frequent church attendance groups, religion and church’s community (e.g., congregation) clearly are important parts of their lives. Nomologically relevant activities for road-rage givers might include violence-related activities (e.g., renting X-rated movies, participating in fist fights) and opinions about advocating the death penalty.

Other than these nomologically relevant activities, a confluence of demographic and various psychographic factors might change a person to a hypocrite in the extreme group (Vest et al. 1997; Woodside 2008). The XX group might include similar demographic and lifestyle characteristics that differ from other groups who infrequently or never engage in the two paradoxical modes of behavior. For example, a young male salesperson with more family members might be more likely to have the XX behaviors and report a lifestyle indicating higher stress. The current study attempts to profile the XX group and seeks to understand how demographics and lifestyle patterns relate to XX behavior. This finding offers insights to help explain the paradoxical behavior.

XX group members might have similar characteristics, but people rarely fit the same profile. All extreme groups unlikely share the same demographics and lifestyles. Analyzing the EFB, the variable-based data would be treated as case-based data (Bass et al. 1968; Woodside 2008) to provide further contextual information of nuances to XX segment individuals.

Method

The current study employs a national secondary data to address the issue of paradoxical behavior in going church and doing road rage during most weeks. Items for testing nomological validity were also available in the dataset. Demographic and psychographic in lifestyle details were provided within the data. Comparison analyses and case-based analyses provided information to answer the research questions.

Data Resource

The current study uses data from a national (USA) lifestyle survey made available from DDB World of Chicago. The annual mail survey was conducted in 1998 by Market Facts and funded by DDB Needham advertising agency (Woodside 2008) with 3,350 American respondents. The survey provides detailed information about informants’ demographics and lifestyles. The lifestyle survey was based on a form of quota sampling from a mailing pool of several hundred thousand individuals, which were invited by Market Facts to participate in future mail inquiries on consumer habits (Herbst 2011). A demographically representative sample was selected for the DDB life style survey. Approximately 5,000 people were mailed a written questionnaire, and the response rate was between 70 and 80 % (Herbst 2011). Validity tests show respondents characteristics in DDB life style survey are similar to general social survey (GSS) respondents (Herbst 2011), indicating the sample of DDB life style survey fairly represents the US population.

Measuring Items

The major questions asked about church participation and road-rage behavior. One question item for church participation is: attended church or other place of worship (frequency over the last 12 months). Two question items were for road-rage behavior: gave “the finger” to someone while driving my car (frequency last 12 months) and flashed headlights at another motorist when annoyed with his or her behavior (frequency over the last 12 months). A composite of these two question answers formed the road-rage behavior index.

Nomologically relevant activities for church goers include 3 items: sent a greeting card in honor of an event in someone’s life (anniversary, birthday, university graduation) (frequency over the last 12 months); did volunteer work (frequency over the last 12 months); and religion is an important part of my life (6-point Likert scale). Nomologically relevant activities for road-rage givers also include 3 items: rented an X-rated movie (frequency over the last 12 months); I would do better than average in a fist fight (6-point Likert scale); and I favor the death penalty (6-point Likert scale). Demographic items include gender, marital status, respondent’s age, occupation, annual household income, education level completed, and the number of people living in the respondent’s house. In addition, 14 items profiled the lifestyles of the unique paradoxical behavior segment.

Data Analyses

Church or other place of worship attendance frequency was divided into 7 levels, and road-rage behavior frequency was divided into 5 levels. A 7 by 5 table was then constructed to identify the double extreme (XX) group and other 6 groups. A chi-square test examined the relationship between the two variables: frequency of attending church and frequency of engaging road rage. Analyses of variance procedures and comparisons of differences in proportions tested the nomological validity of the existence of the groups and significance of the XX group’s profile components compared to other groups. The level of statistical significance for mean and proportion comparisons is set at p < 0.001. Further, case-based data examined possible contextual nuances of each case.

Findings

This section presents the data analyses results to identify the XX group and shows statistical evidence of the group’s differentiation from other groups. Then, the nomological validity is tested. Finally, comparison analyses profile the group and provide information to explain the paradoxical behaviors.

Existence of the Paradoxical Behaviors

After cross-tabulating 7 levels of attending church by 5 levels of committing road rage, 7 groups are identified (Table 1; Fig. 1) with a significant chi-square test (χ2 = 102.41, p < 0.001), confirming road rage behavior relates to the frequency of attending church or other place of worship. The paradoxical extreme group (XX group 7) includes 18 extremists (Table 1) who attend church or other place of worship every week. Ironically, this group also exhibits road rage (flashing headlights or giving the finger) every 2 or 3 weeks (20+ times annually). This group (0.55 %) (Table 2) represents less than one percent of informants. Table 3 represents the details of the case-based data. The person E is the most extreme informant. Overall, road rage appears to be exhibited more often by flashing headlights than giving a finger.
Table 3

Case-based demographics of the XX group

 

Attend church

Road rage behavior

Gender

Marital status

Age

Jobs

Annual house income

Education

Household size

Finger

Flashlight

Total

A1

60

60

0

60

Male

Divorced

66

Sales

$45,000–$49,999

Grad college

2

B2

60

0

60

60

Male

Married

27

Service

$30,000–$34,999

Grad high school

5

C3

60

18

2.5

20.5

Male

Married

31

Manager

$30,000–$34,999

Grad college

3

D4

60

18

2.5

20.5

Male

Single

38

Sales

$30,000–$34,999

Grad college

4

E5

60

60

60

120

Male

Single

35

Precision, prd, craft, repair

$20,000–$24,999

Att college

2

F6

60

38

6.5

44.5

Male

Married

55

Sales

N/A

Att college

2

G7

60

18

18

36

Male

Married

29

Sales

$30,000–$34,999

Grad high school

2

H8

60

6.5

60

66.5

Male

Married

48

Professional

$100,000 or more

Post-grad educ

3

I9

60

18

18

36

Male

Married

49

Sales

$50,000–$59,999

Att college

2

J10

60

2.5

18

20.5

Male

Single

28

Service

$45,000–$49,999

Grad college

1

K11

60

6.5

18

24.5

Male

Married

30

Precision, prd, craft, repair

$45,000–$49,999

Grad high School

3

L12

60

6.5

38

44.5

Male

Married

34

Professional

N/A

Post-grad educ

NA

M13

60

0

38

38

Male

Married

24

Precision, prd, craft, repair

$40,000–$44,999

Att college

7

N14

60

10

18

28

Male

Married

28

Operator, laborer

$40,000–$44,999

Grad high school

4

O15

60

0

60

60

Female

Single

23

Sales

$25,000–$29,999

Att college

6

P16

60

2.5

18

20.5

Female

Married

20

N/A

$15,000–$19,999

Grad high school

3

Q17

60

60

0

60

Female

Divorced

53

Adm support

$40,000–$44,999

Grad high school

2

R18

60

6.5

38

44.5

Female

Married

45

Manager

$35,000–$39,999

Grad College

1

Group 1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

43 %

58 %

51.6

4 %

6.95

3.74

2.60

Group 2

17.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

34 %

68 %

51.3

6 %

7.86

3.91

2.66

Group 3

60.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

32 %

74 %

53.2

4 %

7.37

4.05

2.79

Group 4

20.3

2.4

3.4

5.8

52 %

68 %

43.7

8 %

8.25

4.07

2.84

Group 5

0.0

30.4

16.8

47.1

74 %

78 %

38.7

9 %

7.32

3.23

3.19

Group 6

13.8

24.2

19.7

43.9

64 %

67 %

35.6

9 %

8.12

3.70

3.03

Group 7

60

18.4

26.3

44.7

78 %

67 %

36.8

33 %

7.44

4.17

3.06

For gender, marital status, and jobs, the Group1–Group7 shows the male, married, and sales percentages. For annual house income, 6 represents $30,000–$34,999, 7 represents $35,000–$39,999, and 8 represents $40,000–$44,999. For the education, 3 represents Gradate of High School and 4 represents Attend College

The groups (1, 2, and 3) not engaging in any road rage represent 54 % (1,741 people) of all respondents, while 5 % (170 people) (group 5, 6, 7) report chronically enacting heavy road rage (Table 1). Among 818 frequent church goers, 2 % exhibit chronic road-rage behavior, lower than the contingent percentage of groups 5 and 6 (Table 1). Similarly, among 170 heavy road-rage drivers, 11 % attend church frequently, lower than the combined percentages of groups 3 and 4 (Table 1). These findings indicate that attending church generally reduces the road-rage impulses. However, 18 informants strongly violate the tendency and show bizarre paradoxical behavior by attending church weekly and committing road rage frequently. These 18 contradictory and hypocritical extremists do exist and are this study’s focus.

Nomological Validity

Supporting activities for beneficent and social behaviors such as sending a greeting card in honor of an event in someone’s life and performing volunteer work have higher frequency with frequent church attendees compared to the other groups (Fig. 2; Table 4). High frequent church-going segments also more likely agree that religion is an important part of their lives than other segments (Fig. 2; Table 4). Violent-oriented activities or opinions such as renting an X-rated movie, advocating death penalty, and fist fighting occur more frequently with chronic road rage groups compared to the other groups (Fig. 3; Table 4).
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10943-013-9759-1/MediaObjects/10943_2013_9759_Fig2_HTML.gif
Fig. 2

Nomologically relevant activities for church goers: sent a greeting card in honor of an event in someone’s life (Top), religion is an important part of my life (Middle), did volunteer work (Down)

Table 4

The frequencies or mean scores of nomologically relevant activities or opinions

Groups/activities or opinions

Sending a card

Volunteer work

Religion is important

Renting an X-rated movie

Advocating death penalty

Good in fist fight

G1: No church and no road rage

10.38

1.84

3.07

0.73

4.60

2.89

G2: Church sometimes and no road rage

14.19

2.30

4.42

0.39

4.26

2.70

G3: Church every week and no road rage

18.08

3.37

5.72

0.27

4.01

2.42

G4: Some road rage

12.85

2.34

4.01

1.10

4.64

3.22

G5: No church and extreme road rage

7.83

1.75

2.53

3.10

5.07

4.50

G6: Church sometimes and extreme road rage

12.94

1.99

3.80

3.82

4.88

3.96

G7: Church every week and extreme road rage

13.36

2.89

5.22

4.19

5.00

3.83

F value

14.16

34.72

147.39

18.26

14.21

35.09

p value

<.001

<.001

<.001

<.001

<.001

<.001

https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10943-013-9759-1/MediaObjects/10943_2013_9759_Fig3_HTML.gif
Fig. 3

Nomologically relevant activities for road-rage givers: rented an x-rated movie (Down); I would do better than average in a fist fight (Middle); I am in favor of the death penalty (Top)

All three extreme road-rage segments report a higher average frequency for renting an X-rated movie, higher mean scores of advocating death penalty, and performing better in a fist fight (see Table 4). Analyses of variance test results show that comparing nomologically relevant activities and opinions among the seven groups are all statistically significant (Table 4), indicating the nomological validity of the property space analyses is met.

Profile of the XX Group

The XX segment includes 14 males (among the 18 respondents); the male percentage is higher than groups who do not engage in road rage (Table 3). The extreme group includes 11 members between 23 and 38 years old. This group’s average age is younger than other groups whose members do not exhibit road rage (Table 3). Interestingly, one-third of XX segment members work as salespeople, a percentage much higher than found in other six groups (Table 3). Salespeople are usually under high pressure, and they frequently experience face rejections from visiting customers.

Most XX group members are married (12 out of 18), a percentage similar to all respondents (Table 3). All XX group members at least completed high school (Table 3). Compared to the other groups, the XX group’s education level did not vary significantly. For the household size, the Tukey’s post hoc test in the multiple analyses of variance shows no significance in comparison between the XX group and the other groups. Only three respondents have more than four family members (not included) (see Table 3).

For the annual household income, no statistically significant difference exists between the XX group and the other groups. The XX group’s average annual household income is about $40,000, most people (11 people) falling between $30,000 and $49,999 (Table 3). Overall, the XX group tends to have more males, be younger, and have a higher proportion of people working in sales.

Comparing lifestyle in activities, interests, and opinions to other groups, XX group members have more self-confidence, think their greatest achievements are still ahead, and feel that no matter how fast their income goes up they never seem to get ahead (see Table 5). These results imply XX group members have both high ambitions and expectations. These people tend to enjoy their jobs (Table 5).
Table 5

Case-based information about lifestyle of the XX group

 

LS1

LS2

LS3

LS4

LS5

LS6

LS7

LS8

LS9

LS10

LS11

LS12

LS13

LS14

A1

1

5

4

1

4

5

3

10

4

6.5

0

1

1

3

B2

1

5

5

4

2

6

6

0

1

0

0

7

1

6

C3

1

5

4

2

1

3

1

6.5

2

2.5

0

7

1

4

D4

1

5

6

NA

4

2

2

38

5

0

6.5

5

1

4

E5

3

6

6

7

6

6

6

60

6

60

60

7

7

1

F6

2

6

6

3

6

6

6

0

2

0

0

1

1

3

G7

2

2

4

4

3

5

3

2.5

2

0

0

7

1

4

H8

1

3

5

5

4

3

3

18

3

0

0

7

1

4

I9

2

5

3

5

3

5

3

0

1

0

6.5

5

1

4

J10

1

3

3

4

2

5

5

18

2

10

0

6

1

4

K11

2

5

4

7

4

5

5

18

4

0

2.5

4

1

3

L12

NA

5

5

5

1

1

4

2.5

5

0

0

6

1

3

M13

1

5

6

5

3

5

6

0

1

0

0

5

1

1

N14

1

4

4

2

3

6

4

6.5

3

0

0

5

1

3

O15

NA

5

5

3

6

2

2

0

5

0

2.5

2

1

1

P16

NA

5

5

NA

3

4

5

0

4

0

6.5

2

3

4

Q17

2

4

5

2

6

6

2

2.5

3

10

0

4

1

1

R18

2

4

4

5

NA

5

3

6.5

2

6.5

0

1

1

1

Group 1

1.40

4.18

3.66

2.76

3.08

3.70

3.30

5.05

2.72

2.47

1.16

2.98

1.08

2.58

Group 2

1.31

4.07

3.63

3.01

3.14

3.65

3.34

4.37

2.65

2.32

1.51

3.16

1.06

2.49

Group 3

1.32

4.10

3.57

2.98

2.89

3.32

3.14

2.40

2.17

1.33

1.73

3.20

1.07

2.54

Group 4

1.41

4.17

4.17

3.76

3.22

3.86

3.37

7.91

2.76

2.55

1.92

3.59

1.14

2.68

Group 5

1.62

4.60

4.67

4.11

3.95

4.84

4.07

16.65

3.44

5.62

3.24

3.76

1.42

3.24

Group 6

1.53

4.32

4.64

4.44

3.80

4.54

4.15

13.15

3.50

3.48

4.74

4.27

1.29

3.11

Group 7

1.53

4.56

4.67

4.00

3.59

4.44

3.83

10.50

3.06

5.31

4.69

4.56

1.44

3.00

LS lifestyle

LS 1: How much do you enjoy your job? (1 = A lot, 2 = A little, 3 = Not at all)

LS 2: I have more self-confidence than most of my friends (6-point Likert scale)

LS 3: My greatest achievements are still ahead of me (6-point Likert scale)

LS 4: Stayed late at work (frequency last 12 months) (1 = 0, 2 = 1–4 times, 3 = 5–8 times, 4 = 9–11 times, 5 = 12–24 times, 6 = 25–51 times, 7 = 52+ times)

LS 5: I feel like I’m so busy trying to make everybody else happy that I don’t have control of my own life (6-point Likert scale)

LS 6: No matter how fast our income goes up we never seem to get ahead (6-point Likert scale)

LS 7: I wish I knew how to relax (6-point Likert scale)

LS 8: Went to a bar or tavern (frequency last 12 months)

LS 9: A drink or two at the end of the day is a perfect way to unwind (6-point Likert scale)

LS 10: Gambled in a casino (frequency last 12 months)

LS 11: Went camping (frequency last 12 months)

LS 12: Watched a professional men’s sporting event on TV (frequency last 12 months) (1 = 0, 2 = 1–4 times, 3 = 5–8 times, 4 = 9–11 times, 5 = 12–24 times, 6 = 25–51 times, 7 = 52+ times)

LS 13: Went to an auto race (NASCAR, Formula 1, etc.) (frequency last 12 months) (1 = 0, 2 = 1–4 times, 3 = 5–8 times, 4 = 9–11 times, 5 = 12–24 times, 6 = 25–51 times, 7 = 52+ times)

LS 14: Men are naturally better leaders than women (6-point Likert scale)

Compared to groups not exhibiting road rage, the XX group and the groups committing heavy road rage seem more likely to stay late at work, feel like they are too busy trying to make everybody else happy that they do not have control of their own life, and wish they knew how to relax (Table 5). These symptoms suggest they might be very frustrated individuals. To unwind, perhaps they like to go to a bar or tavern and consumer alcoholic beverages at the end of their work day (Table 5).

Compared to groups not involved in road rage, road-rage violators might likely gamble in casinos, go camping, watch a professional man’s sporting events on television, go to an automobile races, and believe that men naturally are better leaders than women (Table 5). These acts and beliefs give insights into the adventurous and masculine traits related to aggression.

Case-based Analyses

Case analyses are based on the information presented in Tables 3 and 5. Respondent F6 is a married salesman. He seems to set high goals, tries to achieve them by making his customers happy, and does not know how to relax. Sometimes, F6 uses too much of his self-control resources, impairing his ability in regulating his driving behavior. Respondent H8 is a professional and the wealthiest person in the XX group. He has high self-expectations, stays late at work, likes to have a drink, and watch professional men’s sporting events. H8 is busy, and he has pressure from his profession, perhaps leading to reduce self-control in driving.

Respondent I9 is a salesman with a good salary and his actions are similar to H8. Respondent J10 is a young, single man working in the service industry. He is active in many social activities including going to bar, gambling, and watching sports, yet J10 does not know how to relax. His inability to unwind likely depletes his capacity for self-control. Although K11, L12, and M13 may not be as rich as H8, they have similar lifestyles as H8.

Respondent O15 is a young single saleswoman. She has high goals, is eager to please her customers, and sometimes does not have control of her own life. These symptoms likely influence her driving behavior. Respondent P16 is the youngest in the XX group. P16 is married with low income; however, she has high self-expectations and wishes she knew how to relax.

Respondent A1 is a salesman reporting more self-confidence than most of his friends. He feels his income never seems enough for him to get ahead. A1 likes to gamble in casino. Respondent B2 is a young, married man with 5 people in his household. Like A1, B2 is confident with high self-expectations. B2 loves to watch professional men’s sporting events. Respondents C3 and G7 are similar to B2. Respondent D4 is a single, salesman with similar characteristics as B2 and C3. D4 also likely goes to bar or tavern to try unwind.

Respondent N14 is ambitious and he strives to earn more money. Like his cohort, N14 likes to have a drink alcohol and watch professional men’s sports. Respondent R18 is a female, married manager. She stays late at work and wants to earn more money. These people may not be consciously aware that their ambition, love to take risks, masculinity, and little indulgences contribute to their dangerous driving behavior.

E5 is probably the most extreme person in the XX group. His self-expectations are high. E5 stays late at work, but he does not earn a lot. He drinks, gambles, watches sports, goes camping and auto race, and feels busy making other people happy. E5′s outlook is cynical, justifying his actions. Respondent Q17 is an older, divorced woman. Q17 tries to make other people happy, and she may go to gamble. Perhaps her age allows Q17 to believe she is sophisticated enough to justify everything she does.

Discussion

This study demonstrates XX behavior segment exists (18 of 3,252 people). The results show a segment of 18 paradoxical people attend church every week as well as engage in road rage at least 20 times annually. The XX behavior group’s demographic and psychographic characteristics portray similar lifestyles including activities, interests, and opinions that differ from other groups.

Three theories help to explain why people conjointly go to church and commit road rage. First, the limited energy theory posits energy used by one process diverts and depletes energy necessary for self-control in impulsive aggression such as road rage (Gailliot et al. 2007; DeWall et al. 2007).

Second, the Eagleman’s (2011) theory of unconscious mind suggests the brain’s unconscious workings often override conscious thought. Third, justification theory suggests angry drivers justify exhibiting road rage in response to other motorists’ annoying driving behaviors (Steup 2011).

Limited Energy Theory

Limited energy theory helps explain the seemingly paradoxical behavior. People attending church most weeks suggest they support a specific value orientation and lead a lifestyle following the religion’s tenants. These people hold themselves to a higher standard, and they are under pressure not to do something considered socially inappropriate. Following the righteous path requires energy to meet this high standard and their ability for self-control declines. Obviously, other pressures reduce a person’s ability for self-control. These people stay late at work and feel overwhelmed trying to make everybody else happy that they have no control of their own life. Sadly, they may not know how to relax.

When prior acts deplete the capacity for self-regulation, a person, particularly low in trait self-control, would be more likely to increase aggressive responses (Gailliot et al. 2007). Driving alone, they might flash their headlights to a slower car the front or gave a finger while passing the slower car. The current study’s results show the more chronic road rage groups frequently engage in other potentially violent-oriented activities—such as renting an X-rated movie, advocating death penalty, and doing better in fist fighting. These activities suggest the groups might be low in trait self-control for violent behavior.

After the road-rage event, the instigator might feel an anger release. Conversely, they might feel remorse for their behavior, consciously or unconsciously. Attending church to confess offers an outlet to confront their guilt. Road-rage behavior plus any other sinful behavior brings these people back to church for forgiveness.

Church attendance becomes part of a weekly cycle balancing the pressure and release. Prior research argues religiousness could promote self-control (McCullough and Willoughby 2009), or church atmosphere might provide forum for belongingness to replenish self, because likely in the church people can increase positive emotions for replenishing the self’s stock of energy and its capacity for self-regulation (Baumeister 2002; Tice et al. 2007; Tyler and Burns 2008). However, the linkage between church and self-regulation is not 100 %. The Christian church traditionally engages in missions to change individuals (McCollough 1974); however, assimilation to the church norms may cause reactance among church goers (Brehm 1966).

Confronting the Unconscious Mind?

A friend told the following story. He said just in the previous week, he went out of town by car pooling with a good friend (code: UM) for a long distance trip. Before this long trip, my friend described UM as a gentle, nice, polite, and generous person. However, in the long trip, UM seemingly unconsciously uttered, “Stupid!” more than once when encountering dull drivers every time. My friend had known that UM was a quick athlete and could somehow empathize UM’s feeling in experiencing with non-quick drivers. But my friend said he was totally shocked by “Stupid”… “Stupid” again and again and did not know what to say.

Does this story sound familiar? Are you the UM? Or you can easily identify a UM from one of your friends. A limited energy theory might say that UM was using his energy in driving and exhausted, and thus lost his ability in self-control with less energy. Nevertheless, UM might not be exactly consciously aware of what he was doing. When UM spoke out loud the word “stupid,” the only person who could hear the word was the friend, making the friend would feel himself stupid. UM’s negative responses of emotion to salient stimuli could become habitual without consciously knowing their ill effects.

The sensations of upset emotion could employ unconscious machinery in some brain areas to quickly evaluate the stimuli and hopefully initiate appropriate actions (Eagleman 2007). Unfortunately, since the ethical value of the action did not emerge as consciously computed and perceived, the actions such as impulsive aggression in road rage and violence could be consequences of faulty emotion regulation (Eagleman 2007).

Further, culture could play a role. A culture’s norms may be considered socially rude behavior in another culture. When a sincere person emigrates from a country to another country, it may be very likely that at the beginning, some of his unconsciously cultured actions would make him embarrassed once he was told and became consciously aware of his poor habits. For example, in some cultures, waiting on line is not considered serious, so every time when he needed to get something he just intuitively rushed to the front desk without seeing any other people already waiting there before him. Like the emperor in the short tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, most people may not be consciously aware some of their habitual behavior until a voice obtrusively came in as the child cried out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

Therefore, for some reason, these 18 people might not be consciously aware of the seriousness of road rage. But be careful if confrontation is necessary to wake them up. Sometimes, it needs time or euphemistical strategy to provide an evidence for the logic of justification to let them perceive the ethical issue of their behaviors. Otherwise, in the most serious situation, the confrontation might make a person, like Nomad, confused and self-destruct. Frequent church attendance may help make people more sensitive to their wrongdoings and gradually revise the anti-social behavior.

Theory of Justification

According to the deontological justification (Steup 2011), the 18 people might justify their behavior to themselves for a good reason and they were not obliged to refrain from doing road rage. They engage road rage to teach or direct other drivers or motorists.

For example, a driver angrily flashing his headlights at an oncoming car because the car was using high beam headlights glaring drivers’ eyes teaches the other driver a lesson. The oncoming car’s driver using high beam headlights was unaware of the careless behavior. Although the high beam headlights offer themselves clearer sight, the light glaring negatively affects the oncoming driver’s ability to see.

The preceding example suggests flashing lights surely can be morally justified to remind the oncoming car drivers or to instruct them a correct way of driving. For another situation, road rage occurs when the angry driver follows someone traveling below the speed limit. Even cases where the front driver is traveling at the posted speed limit, people behind the lead car may feel slowed by the car in front. Flashing headlights to the car in front is a signal for the lead driver to pull over and allow the second car to pass.

Implications

While only 18 people fit into the extreme paradoxical behavior category, the findings could be important, because the hypothesized category likely comprises a substantial number of people when examined in the population as a whole. Because the characteristics of respondents in this current study are similar to GSS respondents (Herbst 2011), the sample fairly represents the US adult population (XX = 0.55 % of the US adult population older than or equal to 18 years of age), indicating that approximately 1.31 million people would fit into this category (0.0055*total population 315,525,162*0.755 the percentage of people older than or equal to 18 years old) (United States Census Bureau 2013). Other than the illogical behaviors of going church and doing road rage most weeks, many other forms of paradoxical behavior likely exist, indicating the potential numbers in this category might be larger than estimated. For example, people exercise and then go to a restaurant eating junk food.

As people feel in less control of their lives, appear unconsciously aware of their regrettable misconducts, or justify their socially undesirable behavior, opportunities emerge for a wide range of products, services, courses, and activities such as food for increase in self-control, psychological consulting services, management courses of pressure and emotion, sincere and comfortable confession groups, and self-improvement activities.

When the XX behavior group (group 7) was compared to groups 5 and 6 (Fig. 1), these three groups all had extreme road-rage behaviors but the three groups varied in frequencies of attending church. Going church frequently did change the behavior of the XX group. They became more satisfied with the way things were going in their life these days than the groups of people with chronic road rage but not going church. They became not so cynical and aggressive and began to feel content. The XX segment of people was also active in engaging in events involving other people—they liked to attend sporting events and go camping with others. This might satisfy their social needs and created opportunities for others to help them be aware of their road-rage behaviors.

One limitation of the current research is that although “giving a finger” and “flashing headlights” associate positively in a moderate degree, these two behaviors are not completely consistent in the XX behavior group. The perceived degree of impoliteness may be different for these two modes of behavior. For example, giving finger was considered ruder than flashing headlights as the group 7 (attending church frequently) was higher in the percentage of flashing light to giving finger than that in groups 5 and 6 (not or infrequently going church) (Table 3). Caution may be necessary in interpreting findings that follow from the combination of these two modes of behavior.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013