September 26, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Truls Thorstensen (EFS Consulting Vienna), Karl Grammer (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Urban Ethology) and other researchers at the University of Vienna have discovered that people attribute certain personality traits or emotions to the front of a car. Humans are able to collect information on people's sex, age, emotions, and intentions based on the look of the face. In theory, if humans have this ability to perceive traits and emotion on the human face, could they not attribute the same types of perceptions on inanimate objects that possess face-like qualities?
To investigate this theory, "the researchers therefore asked people to report the characteristics, emotions, personality traits, and attitudes that they ascribed to car fronts and then used geometric morphometrics to calculate the corresponding shape information."
Ninety percent of cars possessed human or animal-like faces according to about a third of the subjects. Of course, the headlights were seen as eyes, the grill as a mouth and about 50% of cars had some part representing a nose. Interestingly, most subjects agreed on the personality traits of certain cars. Subjects tended to prefer cars with either a wide stance, narrow windshield or narrow, but widely spaced headlights. In addition, the more the subject liked a type of car, the more they could perceive a characteristic of power. This suggests that the subjects prefer mature, dominant, masculine, arrogant, angry-looking cars.
There is no doubt that this kind of research will benefit car manufacturers, but what does it say about human nature? There will be an influx in dominant angry-looking cars in the automobile industry. Not only will elaborate designs become distracting, but if humans actually perceive personality traits and emotions from car fronts, it would be safe to assume that incidents of road rage and bullying behaviour might actually increase. Although, this research is interesting and useful, it is likely that it will be used solely to generate more wealth instead of being used to improve the safety of our roads.
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