Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Life Is a Highway: Study Confirms Cars Have Personality

27.11.2008
No one needs to tell Disney, which brought the likes of Herbie the Love Bug and Lightning McQueen to the big screen, that cars have personality.

Now a study co-authored by a Florida State University researcher has confirmed through a complex statistical analysis that many people see human facial features in the front end of automobiles and ascribe various personality traits to cars -- a modern experience driven by our prehistoric psyches.

Researchers, product designers and, of course, filmmakers have long toyed with the idea that cars have faces, but this study is the first to investigate the phenomenon systematically. The study will be published in the December issue of the journal Human Nature.

“The study confirmed with some rigor what many people have already felt -- that cars seem to have consistent personality traits associated with them, and that this is similar to the way people perceive facial expressions,” said Dennis Slice, an associate professor in Florida State’s Department of Scientific Computing. “The most unique aspect of the study was that we were able to quantitatively link the perception of cars to aspects of their physical structure in a way that allows us to generate a car that would project, say, aggression, anger or masculinity or the opposite traits.”

As a guest professor at the University of Vienna, Slice collaborated with doctoral student Sonja Windhager, the study’s lead author, and several colleagues to explore the link between perception and the geometry of a car front and its parts. The researchers asked 40 people to view high-resolution, 3-D computer reconstructions and printed images of 38 actual 2004-06 car models, representing 26 manufacturers from Ford to Mercedes.

One-third (32.5 percent) of those participating in the experiment associated a human or an animal face with at least 90 percent of the cars. Generally, the headlights were marked as eyes; the nose tended to be the grill or emblem; the additional air intake slots, the mouth. Each participant in the experiment also was asked to rate each model on 19 traits, including dominance, maturity, gender and friendliness, and if they liked the car.

“In our study, people generally agreed in their ratings,’’ Slice said, noting that 96 percent agreed on whether a car was dominant or submissive. “Thus, there must be some kind of consistent message that is being perceived in car fronts.”

For example, cars scoring high in the so-called power traits had horizontally elongated hoods, pronounced lower car bodies relative to the windshields and more angular headlights that seemed to suggest a frown. Conversely, cars on the other end of the power scale -- that is, those perceived as childlike, submissive, female and friendly -- had headlights with their upper edge relatively close to the midline and had an upward shift of the car’s lateral-most points. (“In this way, the car gives us a big smile,” Slice said.)

In a finding that suggests perhaps there is a hidden road warrior in all of us, study participants liked power vehicles best -- the most mature, masculine, arrogant and angry-looking ones. Although people do not necessarily buy the kind of car they say they like, Slice said the finding spurs some interesting questions for future studies about pedestrian and driver behavior. For example, do people extend the perception of the car to the person behind the wheel? And does that affect how drivers interact with other cars on the road?

In addition, the study provides a check into the rearview mirror of our prehistoric psyches, Slice said. The researchers theorized that, through biological evolution, our brains have been designed to infer a great deal of information about another person -- age, sex, attitudes, personality traits and emotions -- from just a glance at their face. The ability to “read” faces in order to identify people, detect possible kin relationships and assess potential danger has been so important to human development that people have adapted a hypersensitivity to detecting facial features even if they are presented in rather abstract ways. As a result, we are tempted to see faces everywhere, even in clouds, stones and, yes, cars.

“The fact that we can so easily see faces in inanimate objects may tell us something about the evolutionary environment in which this capacity arose,” Slice said. “Seeing too many faces, even in mountains or toast, has little or no penalty, but missing or misinterpreting the face of a predator or attacker could be fatal.”

Dennis Slice | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.fsu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>