Can Driving Make You Happy?
PsyDrive were commissioned to investigate whether driving a convertible improved mood states and reduced stress as measured via heart rate variability. Over 20 participants drove a Fiat 500 on a country road with the top up and with the top down. When the roof was down, there was a significant increase in happiness, especially among the more aggressive drivers. Driving with the roof down also caused heart rate variability to reduce by up to a third, suggesting that drivers having greater contact with their driving environment and the wind in their hair could improve their wellbeing.
The study found that convertible driving may also lead to safer driving, as drivers showed up to 15% increased alertness and 20% lower levels of negative emotions such as frustration or anger. Positive mood (both neutral and/or happy) is associated with improved driving performance, visual attention, and faster hazard response. The study suggests that there may be a safety benefit to driving a convertible in certain situations.