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Car design can tangibly evoke a powerful emotional reaction in humans, particularly men, according to a new study by Volvo.

Conducted in collaboration with London-based electroencephalograph (EEG) neurofeedback specialists Myndplay, the Volvo Cars study examined how the brain reacts emotionally to car design and how design aesthetics make us feel.

Specifically looking for activation and spikes in Beta and Gamma frequencies in the left prefrontal cortex of respondents’ brains, the experiment comprised participants viewing and rating a series of images while wearing a dry sensor EEG headset.

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Including perceived ‘bad’ and ‘out-dated’ car design, happy and crying babies, and ‘beautiful’ men and women, the visual stimuli also included images of the Volvo Concept Coupe – first unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt motor show.

According to Volvo, data from the experiment proved that humans react emotionally to the shape of a car, with men in particular, seemingly ‘programmed’ to like sleek design with beautiful lines.

Of the participants, 74 per cent of men claimed that good design made them feel positive while the study found men experienced more emotion while looking at images of beautiful car design than they did while looking at an image of a crying child.

Women, by comparison, displayed an emotional intensity to the picture of a crying child nearly double that of male participants, with 33 per cent of women rating images of car design higher than an image of an attractive man.

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Sixty per cent of men also claimed that driving a beautiful car makes them feel confident and empowered.

Volvo Cars senior vice president of design Thomas Ingenlath said the survey proves what has been long suspected.

“Beautiful car design can elicit strong emotional responses ranging from a positive frame of mind to a sense of empowerment,” Ingenlath said.

A parallel survey of 2000 respondents conducted by OnePoll found 43 per cent of men said they found car shape and design to be the most appealing aspect of a vehicle, over the interior, technology, wheels or engine. The OnePoll data also showed men viewed the front of the car as the most attractive feature, while women favoured the rear.




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