The study measured the reactions from both sexes when shown images of the new Volvo Coupe Concept, designed to mark the end of Volvo's "vanilla days".
Participants were then shown images of ‘attractive’ people and cars that were perceived to be of ‘bad’ or ‘out-of-date’ design. A blank image was used as a 'control', and images of happy and crying infants were also used in the test.
Female participants had twice the emotional connection with the crying baby than men, while men were much more likely to react to the Coupe Concept’s design.
Further study revealed 74 percent of men claimed that good design made them feel positive while 60 percent claimed that driving a beautiful car makes them feel confident and empowered.
Only 33 percent of women rated images of car design higher than an image of an attractive man.
"Appreciating an aesthetically pleasing design is an experience which combines understanding and emotions,” UK Neuroscientist, Dr David Lewis, said.
“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 Coupe Concept was a deliberate choice from Volvo, which is using the study to gauge future styling directions as it attempts to build a more emotive connection with the brand.
A parallel survey conducted by OnePoll revealed 43 percent of men found a car’s shape and design to be the most appealing aspect over interior, gadgets, wheels and the engine.
The survey also revealed the front of a car was the most attractive feature for men, while women preferred the rear design.