The relation between reinforcement sensitivity and self-reported, simulated and on-road driving in older drivers

Judith H. J. Urlings*, Martijn van Beers, Ariane Cuenen, Kris Brijs, Tom Brijs, Ellen M. M. Jongen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous studies on older drivers show that diminishing functional (i.e. visual, motor and cognitive) abilities influence driving behavior. Research on young novice drivers, has shown that personality factors such as reinforcement sensitivity play a role in driving behavior. This relation however, has been understudied in older drivers. The present study investigated the relationship between reinforcement sensitivity and driving in older drivers at risk of diminished driving ability. Driving was assessed by self-report measures (i.e., Driver Behavior Questionnaire), a simulated driving task and an on-road driving assessment. Both general driving as well as specific aspects of driving (i.e. speed, standard deviation of lateral position I SDP], reactions to unexpected events) were considered. Reinforcement sensitivity was assessed by means of the classical BIS\BAS self-report instrument. Additionally, as this has been shown already for adolescents, it was investigated whether behavioral inhibition can function as a surrogate measure of reinforcement sensitivity, by studying the relation between behavioral inhibition and reinforcement sensitivity in the current sample of older adults. Reinforcement sensitivity predicted self-report driving but simulated and on-road driving were mainly predicted by age. In specific aspects of simulated driving, reinforcement sensitivity played only a minor role. The fact that reinforcement sensitivity was related to self-reported driving provides support for the hypothesis that personality differences have a direct influence on older drivers' self-assessment and possibly on self-regulation and ceasing to drive decisions. Behavioral inhibition was unrelated to reinforcement sensitivity in older drivers and can therefore not function as a surrogate measure of reinforcement sensitivity. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-476
Number of pages11
JournalTransportation Research Part F-Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Reinforcement sensitivity
  • Personality
  • Older drivers
  • Self-reported driving
  • Simulated driving
  • On-road driving
  • AGE

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