Study Says That People Who Like Loud Exhaust Are Psychotic

burning rubber
Loud Exhaust Is for Psychos, Study Saysmcdomx - Getty Images
  • A professor in Ontario, Canada, has released results of a study of people's attitudes toward loud vehicles.

  • Having asked undergraduate business students whether they think such vehicles are "cool," the result, not totally surprisingly, was that many of them do.

  • Respondents also scored high on the "psychopathy and sadism" scale, but the study was only for cars. Truck and motorcycle owners, the study suggests, might score even worse.

A new study by Western University in Ontario says that if you've got a car with a modified exhaust system, odds are you're a guy and probably also psychotic and sadistic. Slapping a Cherry Bomb glasspack on your Monte Carlo doesn't (necessarily) mean you're a Ted Bundy–level psycho, but the data someone points to a personality that enjoys inflicting unpleasantness on others. The study—catchily titled, "A desire for a loud car with a modified muffler is predicted by being a man and higher scores on psychopathy and sadism"—was commissioned by professor Julie Aitken Schermer, who heard many a loud car in London, Ontario and wondered what kind of person would want their car exhaust to be louder than normal. She probably could have saved a lot of time by simply looking up Cadillac Escalade-V registrations.

The study group comprised 529 undergrad business students who were asked whether they thought loud cars are cool, whether they viewed their cars as an extension of themselves, and if they'd modify their own cars to make the exhaust louder. Further, each participant took a Short Dark Tetrad personality survey to assess predilection toward general malice and belligerence—psychopathy, narcissism, manipulativeness. Somewhat surprisingly, the straight-pipe crowd didn’t score high on narcissism, indicating that the appreciation of stridently broadcast internal combustion isn't motivated by, "Hey, look at me!" It's more like, "Hey, listen to my Nissan VQ, whether you like it or not."


If you're wondering what sort of other affinities might be predicted by high scores in sadism and psychopathy, the study says that those sorts of traits have also shown up in responses asking if the participant had intentionally started an illegal fire. OK, so maybe that Tubi exhaust on your Ferrari 458 might disqualify you from your neighbor's Christmas fruitcake list, but can we all agree that it's not as bad as arson? Only the crackle mufflers on 20-year-old Chevy Tahoes deserve that sort of comparison.

Speaking of which, this study concerned only cars, excluding trucks and motorcycles. But the Schermer speculated that a similar study focusing on trucks would point to even more psychosis, since other studies have already shown that larger vehicles are already perceived as more aggressive. And so, "If both larger and louder car items had been included, the correlations with sadism and psychopathy may have been even greater." We're also waiting for a survey on what type of personality defects animate those of us who enjoy loud intakes rather than exhaust. If we want to hear some supercharger whine or boost dump, does that mean we're also pathologically lying kleptomaniacs?

Ultimately, all loud exhausts are not created equal, and some of us enjoy hearing them as long as they're not outside our bedroom window at 3 a.m. We don't need a study to tell us that you can put a Borla system on your Grand Marquis without turning it into the DeSade.

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