As sweeping stereotypes go, the male obsession with cars is as established as a lady’s love of shoes. However, new research by Volvo suggests that blokes may actually be ‘genetically programmed’ to love flash motors.
The Swedish manufacturer commissioned a study of the brainwaves of a number of volunteers, both male and female, who were shown a series of images, while the electrical impulses of their brains were measured.
The images included those of cars considered both ugly and beautiful such as Robin Reliants and a futuristic Volvo prototype, plus pictures of men and women, as well as crying babies.
The results concluded that men produced the strongest brain impulses when shown a picture of a beautiful woman, with a sleek, curvaceous car provoking the second highest response.
In contract to women, whose brain activity peaked upon seeing an image of a crying baby, the picture ranked third for men, who were less responsive to it.
A picture of an attractive man was also much more likely to stimulate brain activity in women, with the images of cars provoking much less of a reaction.
Volvo is using the experiment – which it claims is the first of its kind – to prove that the design of a car was important in the owner having an emotive connection with it.
A separate survey seems to back these findings, with 43 per cent of men stating that design ranked amongst the most important factors when shopping for a new set of wheels.
Explaining the human response to the images to the Daily Mail, Neuroscientist Dr David Lewis said: “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.”
Volvo design chief Thomas Ingenlath commented: “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.”
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