Guys Who Like Loud Cars Have Sadistic, Psychopathic Tendencies: Study

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Car enthusiasts like most social groups come in different shapes, sizes, and specialties, with some who focus on classic cars, some who love electric cars, and a litany of other niches. A Canadian researcher and college professor surveyed over 500 business students to learn more about the automotive enthusiast affliction — specifically what other psychological traits are present among the people who enjoy cars with loud exhausts. The results of this study drew links between folks with a penchant for loud exhausts and folks with psychopathic and sadistic tendencies. Harsh, but not necessarily unreasonable.

Julie Aitken Schermer is a professor of psychology, management, and organizational studies at Western University in Ontario, Canada, and she laments the pervasiveness of cars with unreasonably loud exhausts in her town. She surveyed an admittedly pigeonholed group of undergraduate business students at Western University and found that the folks who like loud exhausts also have problematic personality tendencies. According to CBC News Canada,

“As part of the research, Schermer surveyed 529 undergrad business students — 289 men, 234 women and six who identified as “other.” They were asked if they viewed their car as an extension of themselves, how much they thought loud cars were “cool” and if they would make their cars louder with muffler modifications.

Schermer also gave them a Short Dark Tetrad (SD4) personality measure — another questionnaire that assesses a cluster of malicious personality traits, including narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism (linked to being cunning and manipulative).

When she got the results, she expected to see a strong correlation between someone who prefers a look-at-me exhaust system and narcissism, but that wasn’t the case.

“We found that it was sadism and psychopathy was predicting who wants to modify their mufflers, who feels more connected to their vehicle, and they think loud cars are really cool.

“It seems to be this callous disregard for other people’s feelings and their reactions. That’s the psychopathy coming out and it’s also they probably get a kick out of enjoying watching people get startled.”

Schermer laments the gunshot pops, loud engines, and screeching tires that characterize the car culture in her town, citing that it scares her and her dog, as well as local wildlife. She describes herself as ‘a typical academic,’ who performed this study because she couldn’t find any pre-existing psychological studies on what kind of person prefers loud cars.

This study surveyed a very small subset of car people, who were attending undergraduate business school in London, Ontario. The type of person who attends a prestigious university’s undergraduate business school is a very specific social group, and the students who both like cars and study business at this university are an even smaller niche. Young, go-getter business students are often the type of people who wear suits and aspire to own the newest BMW models to flex on their corporate colleagues and shout about how successful they are. There are many different types of car people who don’t study business; my group of car friends calls ourselves the car gays, and we are not impressed by burble tuned BMW 320i’s or flame spitting Supras.

CBC News also interviewed Bailey Trap, a 38-year-old woman who started a performance shop that modifies muscle cars, hot rods, and pickup trucks. She argues that the study played upon stereotypes, and that modified cars are forms of creative expression that allow folks to express themselves like an extravagant outfit. However, Schermer said that the groups Trap is referring to represent a different demographic from what she studied.

While this study does provide insight into the minds of some car enthusiasts, it certainly cannot result in a blanket categorization of the community as sadists and psychopaths. I am going to ask my therapist for their insight on this matter at my next court ordered therapy session, and maybe even bring it up at my auto enthusiast anonymous support group. For the folks who get off by spooking bystanders with your burble tune, please burble responsibly, and remember that it is illegal for your car to make excessive noise.

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