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Title: Subjective risk and memory for driving situations
Author: Chapman, Peter Raymond
ISNI:       0000 0001 3529 3083
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1993
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This thesis explores the relationship between subjective risk when driving and drivers' subsequent memory for everyday driving situations. Relationships are considered in the context of the wider literature on arousal and memory. In the first study subjects drove a set route around Cambridge giving verbal risk ratings; they then performed an unexpected free recall task. Drivers tended to recall situations which they had previously rated as risky. A series of laboratory studies explored this result. In these studies subjects watched films of actual driving situations in a simulator and were given subsequent recognition tests. In the first laboratory study subjective risk was only associated with improved recognition sensitivity for the most potentially dangerous situations. In generally safe situations feelings of risk appeared to impair recognition. These results were replicated in two further laboratory studies using different judgment tasks and stimuli. These results could be explained by subjective risk causing the focusing of attention in driving with a consequent enhancement of memory for central details at the expense of memory for peripheral details. To directly test the attention focusing hypothesis a laboratory study defined central information with respect to risk in driving situations. Then an on-road study found that drivers did indeed recall more central details than would be expected from risky situations. There thus appear to be two relationships between subjective risk and memory in driving. The first is an overall tendency for subjects to recall risky situations. This is assumed to be largely because such events are rare and distinctive. The second is a tendency for subjects to recall central details of risky situations at the expense of peripheral details. This is consistent with recent studies on attention focusing in eyewitness testimony. Some implications of these results for eyewitness testimony and for the psychology of driving are considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology