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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scientists Study Sidewalk Rage

Do you secretly want to punch slow-walking people in the back of the head? You're not alone according to Facebook, which hosts a dawdling-pedestrian-haters group with 15,000 members. Now, science is confirming what experience has long shown: Slow walkers can prompt unparalleled, out-of-control anger. Researchers are calling it pedestrian aggressiveness syndrome, or "sidewalk rage" for short, reports the Wall Street Journal. At its worst, sidewalk rage can lead to a psychiatric condition called "intermittent explosive disorder," aka punching people in the back of the head. Researchers have come to recognize the signs of a ragey walker – muttering, bumping into people, invading personal space, and giving people the evil eye. The next step is to figure out what makes people so apoplectic, and "what that experience is like," said a scientist at Colorado State University who studies anger and road rage. Researchers believe that anger arises when walkers perceive others to be breaking the rules of the sidewalk: If you're slow, stay on the right; don't block the escalator; move to the side to take a picture. When the rules of civility are broken, beware the rager's wrath.Scientists recommend imagining the person blocking your path is lost or confused, rather than intent on ruining your day.

Read original story in The Wall Street Journal | Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011 (from Slate, 2-15=11)

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