Sydney, Mar 25 : Constant negative comments about a woman's driving abilities will only elevate her chances of running over pedestrians, says a new Australian research.
According to the study, negative stereotypes such as calling women lousy drivers can disrupt their focus and make them more likely to run over people.
The study found that women who are told that men are better drivers are more than twice as likely to collide with jaywalking pedestrians as other women in a similar test.
"When people are confronted with negative stereotypes about themselves they seem to experience an additional cognitive load, which can decrease their performance on a task," ABC online quoted Dr Courtney von Hippel from the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, as saying.
"There can be subtle things happening in the environment while a woman is driving, like a male driver shaking his head when she tries to reverse park a car," von Hippel said.
The study shows that how stereotyping can undermine women's performance during a driving simulation study.
In the study, the researchers recruited 168 female university students.
Half the participants in one experiment heard that the study would investigate why men are better drivers than women and were told that the simulation would test the gender difference in driving abilities.
The control group heard no mention of gender differences but were told that the driving task would investigate the mental processes involved in driving.
Nearly half of the drivers in the 'stereotype threat' group hit a jaywalking pedestrian who unexpectedly appeared in the simulation.
Another experiment used the same driving simulation to show that participants who were distracted by a grammatical test were also twice as likely to hit the jaywalker.
"For safety reasons, our stereotype threat manipulation had to be quite contrived," said von Hippel.
"But it shows that it would be worth doing a more thorough investigation, perhaps an observational study, to discover what is going on here," added von Hippel.
The study is published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.