TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Parents who succumb to fits of road rage are also more likely to blow a fuse at their children’s sporting events, according to U.S. research.
University of Maryland researcher Jay Goldstein said these type-A individuals were more prone to erupt in anger in many situations - from being cut off in traffic to an unfavorable referee call - because their ego takes it personally.
“Taking things personally is a strong trigger for anger,” Goldstein told Reuters.
“And people who are ego-driven often perceive something as being directed towards themselves or their children, so they react accordingly.”
Reports of so-called “sideline rage” are often in the media, most recently when a lacrosse league in Winnipeg, Manitoba, this month temporarily barred spectators from games following a string of complaints about abusive parents.
Loud, interfering parents have prompted several youth sporting teams in North America to implement “Silent Saturdays”, which bars cheering or yelling during games.
To see which parents were most involved, Goldstein surveyed 340 parents attending their children’s soccer game and asked them to rate factors such as stress, pressure and levels of anger.
He found 53 percent reported getting angry to some degree during the game. About 40 percent said they reacted by muttering under their breath, yelling or even walking towards the field.
But the parents’ personality type played a role in how much anger they felt, Goldstein found.
Those identified as “control-oriented” more often viewed the actions on the field as a personal affront, and reported more feelings of aggression than parents identified as “automony-oriented”, or less affected by external factors.
“Control-oriented people walk through the world getting bounced around by everything -- they’re highly influenced by their surroundings,” Goldstein said.
Even parents who usually don’t take things personally admitted to feeling angry during their children’s game, although they were able to control their reactions longer than those who were “control-oriented”.
“This tells us that all parents, regardless of their personality types, are susceptible to getting angry once their ego gets in the way,” Goldstein said.
“It also tells us that yes, your personality can buffer you to some extent, but everyone can be affected.”
Reporting by Lara Hertel; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith