Humour: Behaviour


A recent study reported in Science magazine concluded that national stereotypes are very common but highly mistaken [1]. The study suggests that stereotypes can provide some information about culture but not they do not describe the people [2, 3].

Intuitively this makes sense. While culture may broadly influence individual behaviour, it is difficult to see how it can over power an individual’s personality, such as introvert vs. extrovert, conservative vs. radical, lazy vs. industrious, compliant vs. assertive, etc.

However, what about the type of car an individual drives? Can one extrapolate personality (and thus more specifically driving behaviour) from the vehicle they have chosen to drive. Logic (and personal experience) say yes.

Cars are marketed and more often than not they are marketed to appeal to a specific customer segment. For those with a strong message one would expect a more focused segment and thus a more specific personality. For example, a corvette or BMW is marketed to those that prefer high-performance machines. So, you would not expect to see one of these people dawdling along the highway under the speed limit. Similarly, with the slogan “Drivers wanted” you’d expect a more passionate style of driving from a VW owner.

With the message of safetyabove all–Volvo for life–Volvoes might attract more conservative drivers, those who tend to the slower lanes on the highway or drive oblivious to all around them on city streets in the believe that they are fully protected by their tank-like car.

I suspect that many cars lack a clear message and thus a correspondingly focused personality type. But then there are Saab drivers ….


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