Understanding Mat Rempit

Psychological Perspectives

Mat Rempit  has always been seen as a public nuisance. They are reckless, inconsiderate, dangerous to themselves and others, habitual traffic offenders and vision less group of youth. The effort to bring out something more beneficial from this group of youth is generally frown upon by the public and get a typically cold shoulder from the group themselves. Literally, they are seen as hopeless group of youth who can bring out nothing good.

Despite the negative picture that is always associated with them and effort by authorities to stop them, this behavior continues to be popular among the youth. Every day we will hear or read news about them and lots of life has been lost thru this pointless behavior.

Why our youth continue to drift towards this behavior? What motivate them? What are the root causes? Here, we will try to list out the psychological reason behind their behavior base on the strength behind the factor.

Group Psychology

According to a survey by a group of student for a conference in Japan in 2013, they found out 4 factors that drag the youth towards this behavior namely boredom, thrill seeking behavior, peer recognition and peer pressure. These are the words that they use to rationalize their behavior and these are actually the tip of an iceberg of the psychological reason behind it.

If we consider the physical rewards from this behavior, it is not strong enough to keep them in the group and group psychology should also play a role in maintaining the behavior.

What is group psychology? Group psychology is a study about psychosocial effects of an individual that derived from being in a group. Group directly and indirectly influence how people act and react with their surroundings. Influence the hobby, choices that they make and strengthening certain value. This is how group gaining their strength and the complexity of the dynamic inside a group will definitely make it very difficult for people outside of it to change things. This is why Mat Rempit  or any other group of people can be very stubborn and tunnel vision.

Based on group psychology, there are 3 factors in the group that strengthen the behavior and their resolve in continuing the same pattern of behavior namely group breeds competition, breed conformity and may cause ostracization. Obviously, competitiveness might be a good thing but it is not something that we want in a negative behavior such as this. The bigger factor in group psychology, conformity, is proven in anysituation. We have a tendency to follow whatever group of people might do when we are in the group despite it might go against our own conscience.

Conformity causes deviant behavior becoming a norm in a group and they have the tendency to minimize or sidelining anything that might be seen as negative in their activity. It is not a surprise that many of them might talk about rempit with high regards instead of feeling bad about their wayward behavior. They are prone to be more defensive regardless of who’s fault and see themselves as a privilege.

Ostracization is another factor in the group psychology that breed conformity and steadfastness in the behavior. They can’t tolerate being sideline by their group members and end up being isolated and unable to be part of the group again. The dread of being sideline is strong enough for them not to stay away from the group.

Narcissism and Inferiority Complex

In a simple definition, narcissistic person is someone who is obsess with their own self. They are self-absorbed and do things that may feed their need to be seen as the best, the only one or the greatest. According to a website, a narcissistic person has the tendency to engage risky activities such as alcoholism, gambling, drug abuse and reckless driving or in our case, rempit.

The opportunity to be above the law and becoming the center of attention is strong enough to feed their inflated ego. They always feel that they are in control and able to stop their reckless behavior anytime and the overvalued ideas of being in control is actually makes them more vulnerable to negative outcome.

What is the possible reason behind narcissistic inclination among the group? This can be further dissected and could possibly due to the feeling of inferiority complex that is projected in a narcissistic way.Mat Rempit  mainly comes from disadvantaged group of people.  School drop out, low income young people, unemployed and other group of socially and low income group. It is not fair to generalize everyone with that background has the tendency to be Mat Rempit.

Naatanen and Summala study on aggressive driving.

A study has been done to find out the psychology behind aggressive driving in which it can further extended to Mat Rempit behavior. This study listed out 6 extra motives behind aggressive driving namely:

  1. Goals arising from competition with others
  2. Behavioral model of peer’s group: Another study also show that this is the only way of achieving respected status among peers.
  3. The need to prove their skills
  4. Hedonistic objectives
  5. Aggressive emotion
  6. Risk taking behavior

Reading all this factors make us understand why they do what they do and obviously very difficult for us to intervene without understanding the core dynamics behind the behavior.


In view of the factors that we have go through, obviously there is a way for us to intervene. Here is the proposed theoretical ways to help them out.

  1. There is a need for a stronger political will to help the group thru healthier ways to channel their young energy. One of the possible ways is by using them as paid volunteers in government events. They are paid as a token of appreciation and given some kind of acknowledgement of what they do. They need the spotlight and we give them thru this.
  2. Punishment should also by channeling their energy to more productive ways.
  3. Negative reinforcement: Every single person who get caught for illegal racing will need to sign a letter of pledge/agreement that stipulates their future conduct and things they need to do and punishment that need to face if they do it again.
  4. No direct or indirect promotion about their behavior especially thru media. Mat Rempit should never be portraying as a hero or as a glorified villain in any films or media.
  5. Instead of giving the active illegal racers media time thru national television, news and etc, might as well give more media time for youngsters who are also in the same age group, socio-economic background and educational background who is relatively successful or able to do much better than them.
  6. Unemployed/unskilled illegal racers should be given option when they get caught either enrolled themselves into a prepared skill training program or short courses or face legal consequence. Many of them don’t know how to improve themselves.
  7. Centralized information about frequent offenders and registering this group of offenders in different traffic offender list that include program that they have been enrolled, backgrounds etc.

These are narrative intervention that can be done and psychological issues that need to be tackle before we can control the group in a way. It is not easy but not impossible.


  1. ambafrance-do.org Narcissism, substance abuse and reckless behavior
  2. http://iafor.org/archives/offprints/acll2013-offprints/ACLL2013_0313.pdf
  3. http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/07/10-rules-that-govern-groups.php
  4. http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/muarccr81.pdf
  5. http://www.aamva.org/uploadedFiles/MainSite/Content/DriverLicensingIdentification/At_Risk_Drivers/Problem%20Driver%20Intervention%20Program.pdf
Last Reviewed : 28 April 2017
Writer : Dr. Ahmad Rostam B. Md Zin
Accreditor : Tn. Hj. Hairol Kamal B. Abd. Rahman