The Development and Validation of the CAPS Model in a Reckless Behaviour Context: Identifying the Predictors of Unsafe Driving Behaviours

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Bradley, Graham

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Creed, Peter

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Young drivers have markedly higher motor vehicle crash-risk and crash involvement rates than do older drivers, and are severely over-represented in both morbidity and mortality rates related to vehicle crashes. Underpinning these findings is the tendency for young drivers to engage in more risk-taking whilst driving than older drivers. The current research focuses on unsafe driving behaviours. Unsafe driving behaviours satisfy Arnett’s (1992) three criteria of recklessness: they lack mainstream social approval and may even involve violations of the law; they carry strong connotations of negative consequences by placing drivers and/or their passengers at risk of morbidity, mortality, and other negative outcomes; and, by definition, they involve deliberate deviations from safe driving. Examples of these behaviours include speeding, tailgating, driving whilst using a mobile phone, driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and other psychoactive substances, and driving whilst tired or fatigued, all of which compromise both driving performance and driving safety. These are also more common amongst younger than older drivers. The current dissertation describes an application of Mischel and Shoda’s (1995) Cognitive-Affective Personality System (CAPS) to unsafe driving behaviours. CAPS is a meta-theoretical framework that fuses research from cognitive-social theory, as well as research on connectionism and activation. CAPS posits that personality consists of a mental representation comprised of a stable system of processes or dispositions, called Cognitive-Affective Units (CAUs), which mediate the relationship between features of the situation and subsequent behaviours. The CAPS model is distinctive in that it allows researchers to evaluate multiple, relevant predictors within a comprehensive, general framework and allows for the assessment of their inter-relations.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Applied Psychology

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Cognitive-Affective Personality System (CAPS)

Young drivers

Reckless behaviour

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