EMOVIAL, the emotional intelligence test for young drivers, has been developed and validated

A questionnaire to measure teenagers’ capacity to understand and manage their emotions when driving has been created at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country

  • Research

First publication date: 26/08/2020

Goretti Soroa and Aitor Artitzeta. Photo: Gorka Estrada. UPV/EHU.

The Qualiker research group has prepared the EMOVIAL test to find out how emotional intelligence impacts on accidents, bearing in mind the importance of the human factor in road accidents among youngsters. A scale to measure the driver’s capacity to heed, understand and manage his/her emotions and to improve road safety has been produced. And permission has been requested to adapt the test to English and French speakers.

Road accidents affecting teenagers have become a global health issue. Road accidents are the first cause of death among young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25. Human factors are known to have a significant effect on fatalities resulting from road accidents, 9 out of every 10 are the result of inappropriate behaviour or distractions, but until now little research has been conducted to find out the extent to which emotional competences may affect traffic accidents. So a scale designed to measure the emotional intelligence of individuals behind the wheel has been developed and validated by members of the UPV/EHU’s Qualiker research group, in collaboration with the Basque Government’s Traffic Directorate.

The EMOVIAL test measures the emotional intelligence of youngsters in three dimensions: attending to emotions while driving, understanding the emotions felt when driving, and regulating emotions while driving so they do not end up being harmful. The UPV/EHU's PhD holder in psychology Aitor Aritzeta-Galan explained that “it is important to know the capacity of youngsters to regulate their aggressiveness, fear, anger or stress when behind the wheel and also to understand and regulate the emotions caused by drugs or by fellow passengers so that they do not affect their driving behaviour because this is the cause of many accidents”.

Prevention and research

Emotional intelligence in general has been measured, “but we focussed on driving behaviour", explained Aritzeta. So, once the test had been developed, it was validated with nearly 600 youngsters and the analysis of the psychometric properties of the test (statistical analyses to see whether the scale measures the variables in a stable manner) showed that the test is both useful and reliable. So the researcher is satisfied “because we have made a tool available to the scientific community and the public administrations, driving schools, etc.; it is designed to rigorously measure the impact of emotions on accidents and could help in risk prevention. It allows prevention plans in the public administration to be drawn up and accidents reduced". EMOVIAL serves to measure individual emotional intelligence and draw group conclusions.

The conclusions drawn from the research have highlighted the fact that individuals with high emotional intelligence see themselves as less exposed to life in general. What is more, “the individuals who, for example, achieved high scores in the EMOVIAL test displayed more empathy towards pedestrians and cyclists”, said Aritzeta. From the gender perspective, “we showed that women in this age bracket have more emotional intelligence than men. And that is an interesting aspect because accidents have been found to be the first cause of death only in men, not in women. Women display a much higher average level of emotional intelligence and a higher score in EMOVIAL”, he added.

This study has expanded the possibilities of continuing to conduct research in this field, because “it will enable us to measure the effect of emotion plus many other variables and see the how what is measured in EMOVIAL correlates with other variables", he said. For example, emotional intelligence is directly linked to the perception of risk, “when driving thinking you will never get injured or after consuming drugs or using the mobile phone, in other words, driving without paying attention to the risks is dangerous behaviour”. IThis type of test can be adapted to each country because it takes the local culture and language into consideration.

”We believe this questionnaire offers great potential for adaptation into many other languages because it is short and easy to fill in,” he said. In this respect, the research group has already received two requests to adapt the test for English and French speakers. So the researcher believes that “the questionnaire may have plenty of mileage”. Research is also being conducted “to measure emotional intelligence in elderly people behind the wheel and see how this affects their behaviour”.

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