A new study suggests that men experience more emotion when looking at images of car design than they do when looking at images of children.

The research monitored the brainwave activity of men and women when shown a series of images chosen to elicit an emotional response. The results showed that, for men at least, car design is capable of evoking feelings on a par with the most basic of human emotions.

Participants were asked to rate a series of images including happy and crying babies, men and women considered to be beautiful, and pictures of modern and outdated cars while wearing a dry sensor EEG headset.

As well as showing a greater emotional response to car design than to children, 75 per cent of men involved in the experiment also demonstrated more emotion when shown a beautiful car than when shown a beautiful woman. Only one third of women rated images of car design higher than an image of an attractive man.

The experiment, conducted by Volvo and EEG specialists Myndplay, was followed up by a survey asking participants their thoughts and feelings in relation to car design.

A parallel survey conducted by OnePoll of 2000 participants revealed that 43 per cent of men said that they found the car shape and design to be the most appealing aspect, over the interior, gadgets, wheels and engine.

The front of the car was the most attractive feature for men, in contrast to the reaction from women where the rear of the car scored the most highly.

Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of men said that good design made them feel positive, and 60 per cent of men also said that driving a car they perceive as beautiful made them feel both confident and empowered.

When asked about the most important aspects of a car from a design perspective, 43 per cent of men put the car's overall exterior shape above engine size, interior, specifications or wheel design. Women rated a car's rear as its most attractive feature while men overwhelming said that a car's front was its most attractive feature.

Of the results, Dr David Lewis, a 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."