A negative outlook on life could be the reason for your next car accident, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS One. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Psychology in Beijing looked beyond the stereotypical angry driver in order to uncover what core character traits could lead to a crash.

For the study, researchers recruited 38 motor vehicle drivers with at least three years of driving experience. Based on the amount of penalty points on their driving records, participants were split into two groups — 23 safe drivers and 15 dangerous drivers. First they took a survey of their driving habits, which included whether or not they wore a seatbelt or ran a red light. Next, each participant was asked to identify whether a series of photographs had a red or blue border. The image in the photograph was meant to incite negative, positive, or neutral emotions within the participant.

Overall, it took drivers in the dangerous group a little longer to identify the color of the border when the image was negative, indicating a negativity bias. The test was designed to weed out those who process emotional information differently. Past research has shown glass-half-empty type of people tend to respond to negative stimuli at a slower pace, compared to those with a positive mentality. No negativity bias was detected amongst drivers in the safe group because there was no difference in their response timing to photos.

"Drivers with strong negativity biases reported having been involved in more crashes compared with the less-biased drivers," the authors wrote in the study. "[Previous researchers] have not explored the relationship between emotional information processing and driving behavior."

In past studies, research has found angry people tend to focus on the bad in the world around them, making them more likely to experience angry outbursts that take attention away from the road. The emotional effect creates a “visual tunneling” that hinders a person’s ability to be in the present and makes it more difficult for a driver to think clearly and quickly. Ultimately, the anger increases their susceptibility of colliding into dangerous circumstances on the road. But understanding their bad attitude may be the root of the problem can help researchers dig a little deeper into what ingredients lead to human error on the road.

Researchers concluded: “The influence of negativity bias provides one possible explanation for the effects of individual differences on dangerous driving behavior and traffic crashes.”

Source: Chai J, Qu W, Sun, X, Zhang K, and Ge Y. Negativity Bias in dangerous Drivers. PLOS One. 2016.