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Do internals speed less and externals speed more to cope with the death anxiety?

ALPER, Sinan
Özkan, Türker
Past research has showed that mortality salience (MS) increases reckless driving and speeding when the individual perceives driving to be relevant to his or her self-esteem. We claimed that drivers' control orientations also play a significant role in the relationship between MS and speeding. We hypothesized that both a general desirability of control and traffic locus of control (T-LOC) would moderate the effect of MS on speeding. We tested our hypothesis using an online experiment on a sample of 208 young male drivers. Participants were exposed to either mortality or dental pain salience, and they filled out desirability of control, T-LOC, and self-report speeding measures. The results showed that, for individuals with low desirability of control, MS increased preferred speed and decreased intention to comply with speed limit and the percentage of time complied with the speed limit on urban roads with 50 km/h speed limit. For individuals with high desirability of control, on the other hand, MS increased intention to comply with the speed limit on rural roads and percentage of the time complied with the speed limit on both urban and rural roads. In contrast, the interaction between MS and T-LOC showed that an external T-LOC is positively associated with both intention to comply and the percentage of the time complied with the speed limits only on rural roads with 90 km/h.