TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Product designers and filmmakers have long toyed with the idea that cars have faces, but a U.S. study confirms people see faces in the car's front end.
Study co-author Dennis Slice of Florida State University, while a guest professor at the University of Vienna, doctoral student Sonja Windhager and several colleagues asked 40 people to view high-resolution, 3-D computer reconstructions and printed images of 38 actual 2004-2006 car models, representing 26 manufacturers from Ford to Mercedes.
"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," Slice said in a statement. "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."
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.
The study, published in the December issue of the journal Human Nature, found 96 percent agreed on whether a car was dominant or submissive.