Guidance on Messaging to Avoid Reactance and Address Moral Disengagement

Not wearing a seat belt and speeding are two significant contributing factors to motor vehicle-related fatalities. Significant efforts, including messaging, have sought to increase seat belt use and decrease speeding. These efforts have been largely successful as the majority of adults wear a seat belt and do not speed. However, traditional messaging may not be as effective with the small minority of individuals still engaging in these risky behaviors because of two psychological phenomena: psychological reactance and moral disengagement. This project seeks to better understand if these two phenomena are more prevalent among individuals still engaging in these risky behaviors and how messaging might be adjusted to mitigate these phenomena. The objectives of this research project are to: • determine if the prevalence of psychological reactance and moral disengagement are higher among adult drivers who never or rarely wear their seat belts or who drive aggressively (i.e., speed, follow too closely, and pass excessively) compared to adults who do not engage in these risky behaviors; and • identify potential messaging to minimize reactance and overcome moral disengagement regarding seat belt use and aggressive driving.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $137,844
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Montana Department of Transportation

    2701 Prospect Avenue
    P.O. Box 201001
    Helena, MT  United States  59620-1001

    California Department of Transportation

    1227 O Street
    Sacramento, CA  United States  95843

    Connecticut Department of Transportation

    2800 Berlin Turnpike
    Newington, CT  United States  06131

    Washington State Department of Transportation

    Research Office
    P.O. Box 47372
    Olympia, WA  United States  98504

    Vermont Agency of Transportation

    219 North Main Street
    Barre, VT  United States  05641

    Utah Department of Transportation

    4501 South 2700 West
    Project Development
    Salt Lake City, UT  United States  84114-8380

    Texas Department of Transportation

    11th and Brazos Streets
    Austin, TX  United States  78701

    Nevada DOT Research

    1263 South Stewart St
    Carson City, Nevada  United States  89712

    New Hampshire Department of Transportation

    John O. Morton Building
    P.O. Box 483
    Concord, NH  United States  03302-0483

    Louisiana Department of Transportation

    P.O. Box 94245
    1201 Capitol Access Road
    Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70804-9245

    Indiana Department of Transportation

    1101 State Office Building
    Indianapolis, IN  United States  46204

    Idaho Transportation Department

    P.O. Box 7129, 3311 West State Street
    Boise, ID  United States  83707-1129

    Iowa Department of Transportation

    800 Lincoln Way
    Ames, IA  United States  50010

    Illinois Department of Transportation

    2300 S. Dirksen Parkway
    Springfield, IL  United States  62764
  • Managing Organizations:

    Montana Department of Transportation

    2701 Prospect Avenue
    P.O. Box 201001
    Helena, MT  United States  59620-1001
  • Project Managers:

    Sillick, Susan

  • Performing Organizations:

    Montana State University, Western Transportation Institute

    P.O. Box 174250
    Bozeman, MT  United States  59717
  • Principal Investigators:

    Ward, Nicholas

  • Start Date: 20190201
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210731
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01691791
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Montana Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 08882-309-15, TPF-5(309)
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 29 2019 9:12AM