Guidance on Messaging to Avoid Reactance and Address Moral Disengagement
Traffic safety professionals are tasked with the complexities of finding ways to change behavior. Significant progress has been made in addressing several risky behaviors like not wearing a seat belt and driving aggressively resulting in fewer people engaging in these behaviors. However, a small portion of the population (i.e., about 10 percent) still does not wear a seat belt and regularly speeds (one form of aggressive driving). To reach our toward zero deaths goals, novel approaches and strategies are needed to engage the small group of people engaging in risky traffic behaviors and those most resistant to change. This project seeks to better understand if two psychological phenomena (psychological reactance and moral disengagement) are more prevalent among individuals engaging in the risky behaviors of not wearing a seat belt and aggressive driving and how messaging might be adjusted to mitigate these phenomena thereby improving traffic safety.
Prepared for the Montana Department of Transportation in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.