Men more emotional at a picture of a car than a crying child

Photo credit: Sivesh Kumar

How does your car make you feel? If you are moved emotionally by the design of your car then you’re not alone, according to pioneering new research. The first scientific experiment of its kind has revealed that beautiful car design can tangibly evoke a powerful range of feelings that are on a par with the most basic of human emotions.

The experiment, conducted by Volvo in collaboration with EEG specialists Myndplay has revealed the true emotive power of car design. So, whether you own your car or you drive it on a car lease or contract hire agreement, it could be generating very raw human emotions in you. Keep reading to find out more.

Men “more emotional at a picture of a car than a crying child”

Car design is proven to be on a par with the most basic human emotions. That’s the conclusion of a new scientific experiment, conducted by Volvo and Myndplay. The research tested respondents to analyse how the brain reacts emotionally to car design and how design aesthetics actually make us feel.

EEG is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp and measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain. The experiment proved that humans react emotionally to the shape of a car, with men in particular seeming almost genetically programmed to like sleek design with beautiful lines.

Participants in the pioneering research were asked to rate a series of images whilst wearing a dry sensor EEG headset that measured brainwave activity in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. The images included the new Volvo Concept Coupé alongside perceived ‘bad’ and ‘out-dated’ car design, visuals of happy/crying babies and men and women considered to be ‘beautiful’.

Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Cars, said: “This survey finally proves what we’ve always suspected. Beautiful car design can elicit strong emotional responses ranging from a positive frame of mind to a sense of empowerment.”

The research found that:

  • Three in five men claim that driving a beautiful car makes them feel confident and empowered
  • Almost three quarters of men claimed that good design made them feel positive
  • A third of women rated images of car design higher than the image of an attractive man
  • Men experienced more emotion whilst looking at images of beautiful car design than they did whilst looking at an image of a crying child

Dr David Lewis, a UK leader in the neuroscience of consumerism and communications stated: “Appreciating an aesthetically pleasing design is an experience which combines understanding and emotions. These are so closely intertwined that it is impossible to distinguish between them. Aesthetic experience involves a unity of sensuous delight, meaningful interpretation, and emotional involvement.”

Design still important in the car you lease

While design is not often cited as an important decision when choosing which car to drive under a car leasing or contract hire agreement, a separate survey from OnePoll has found that the shape of a car is important to drivers. It revealed that 43 per cent of men said that they found the car design to be the most appealing aspect above wheels, gadgets the engine and the interior.

The front of the car was the most attractive feature for men, in contrast to the reaction from women, where the rear of the car scored the most highly.

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