Do YOU get road rage? Scientists say sticking certain type of air freshener in your car could banish your aggression
- The must-have air freshener for your car to help beat road rage is peppermint oil
- Researchers have found that its aroma reduces aggressive behaviour in drivers
Researchers have discovered the best air freshener for banishing your road rage — and it’s not calming lavender.
The scent of peppermint oil was found to reduce negative feelings such as stress and aggression in drivers.
This, in turn, reduces aggressive driving behaviours, according to the team from Northumbria University.
Those struggling with road rage could invest in a peppermint-scented air freshener, they suggested.
For researchers have found that the presence of peppermint oil reduces negative feelings such as stress and aggression in drivers (stock image)
Fifty students from a UK university were recruited for the study, under the pretence that it was simply to investigate the use of virtual reality (VR) for driving simulation.
The participants, who were all over the age of 18 and held a full UK driving license, were quizzed on their mood before and after completing the simulation, reporting how aggressive, alert, happy, stressed and calm they felt on a five-point scale.
They were split into two groups for the driving simulation test — one was exposed to peppermint oil through a diffuser, while a second control group was not.
Using a VR headset, seat, steering wheel and pedals, participants were initially allowed to drive in a ‘calm’ setting for a five-minute practice period.
The researchers then upped the simulation to a 15-minute driving experience that could stimulate aggression.
For example, other drivers would abruptly brake or cut into the participant’s lane without indicating. There were 35 of these types of incidents that occurred during the test for each participant.
Software recorded when their driving behaviour became aggressive, while two researchers logged any verbal cues that signalled aggression.
It wasn’t until the study had been completed that participants were debriefed fully and told that the essential oil was the main focus.
Those in the peppermint oil group showed aggressive driving behaviour 21.6 times, on average, while those in the control group were aggressive 25.2 times, on average — a 16.7 per cent increase.
The researchers also found that those exposed to the scent were more alert and calm, as well as less aggressive and stressed than those in the control group.
This means the aroma ‘significantly reduced aggressive driving behaviours’ and suggests peppermint oil could be used by drivers daily to lower their anger while behind the wheel, the team said.
They suggested that, rather than putting diffusers into vehicles, the scent could be made into a car freshener to reduce driving aggression.
Explaining why the aroma can be calming, the authors wrote that compounds in the essential oil have been shown to have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects on the brain, which may be the ‘root’ of its effect on road rage.
The study was published in the Human Psychopharmacology journal.