Is your commute turning you into a monster?

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This may not come as a shock. Commuting can change who we are.

After intensive study of commuters and commutes in Sydney, researcher David Bissell concludes that commuting “creates subtle but significant transformations in people over time: transformations to the way people act toward one another; what they desire from work and life; their tolerance levels and what they can cope with; and their habits of thinking and feeling.”

Bissell is senior lecturer on sociology at Australian National University. He carried out hours of interviews with 53 Sydney commuters and more than two dozen “stakeholders,” including  policy makers, traffic reporters, human resources staff and historians. He also did a “week in the life” study of two commutes – on a local run through Sydney and one that he describes as one of the longest commuter train trips in Australia. He concludes in his 2015 study:

The experience of stress is more about work and home life pressures that are felt particularly acutely during the journey, because this is often a time where people have the space to reflect on their lives. Stress can also be an experience of the “opportunity costs,” when people’s “commuting lives” are preventing them from undertaking things that they might rather be doing.

Do you think our commute can change who we are? Do commuters treat people differently when they’re driving than when they’re face to face? Are people more tolerant of others or less?


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