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Volvo Car Group, in conjunction with MyndPlay, the company that lets you control movies with your mind, has carried out a neuromarketing experiment that proves what most car fans around the world already know from their heart – that gorgeous automotive designs can elicit strong positive emotions, especially in men.

London-based Myndplay is a true expert in the field of EEG (electroencephalography). In their latest experiment they asked participants to rate a series of different images while a headset measured their brainwave activity to determine emotional responses to certain stimuli.

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.

The experiment, conducted to coincide with the launch of the new Volvo Concept Coupe, showed images of the concept car the Swedish company’ unveiled ahead of September’s Frankfurt motor show, as well as other good-looking cars, older car designs and pictures of happy or crying babies and attractive men and women.

The results of the experiment concluded that men were more moved emotionally when looking at a beautiful car than seeing a crying child.

Additionally, almost three quarters of the men who participated said that a good car design made them feel positive and that 60 per cent of them claimed they feel more confident and empowered when driving a beautiful car. However, these outcomes were severely limited to men, as only a third of the women who participated in the experiment rated a beautifully designed car higher than an attractive man.

Volvo-MyndPlay EEG experiment

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.”

The experiment method

In order to measure the emotional response of participants, a single dry electrode EEG headset was placed on FpZ (middle of forehead) and Fp1 (left prefrontal forehead) to measure activation in the left prefrontal cortex. The experiment was specifically looking for activation and spikes in the Beta and Gamma frequencies. The experiment used existing attention and meditation algorithms and user generated scores in order to cross-reference the results. Participants were asked to rate how they felt about each image immediately after being shown the visual.

In order to gauge emotional response to known positive emotional stimulus, a picture of a smiling baby was included within the experiment. To gauge how subjects respond to old design in comparison with new design, images of a 30-year-old car was also included within the experiment. A blank image was added to normalise and measure baseline.