A study into paranoia and urban cycling published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that 70 per cent of London cyclists believe drivers mean them harm. The findings are consistent with the stress-vulnerability model of everyday paranoia, which predicts an association between environments high in threat and the presence of paranoia.
323 people who regularly cycled in London answered questions to gauge their levels of state and trait paranoia, anxiety, depression and stress.
State paranoia is how paranoid people feel in a certain situation, while trait paranoia is how paranoid people are in general.
The Guardian reports that 58 per cent felt drivers were hostile to them; 45 per cent believed drivers wanted to upset them; 29 per cent thought drivers wanted to harm them; and 50 per cent said of drivers that they “have it in for me”.
In contrast, the cyclists tended to show relatively low levels of trait paranoia.
Researchers said the findings reinforced the need to make greater efforts to protect urban cyclists.
“The present research indicates that paranoia towards motor vehicle users may be common when cycling in London, and that far from being a pathological response, observed state paranoia is an understandable response to an urban environment containing significant and very real threat.
“The present findings reinforce and add a further dimension to the pressing public health need to focus on and protect urban cyclists.”