Here’s looking at you, kid!
Novel interdisciplinary research of the Department of Anthropology (University of Vienna, Austria) jointly with members of the psychology departments of the Universities of Bamberg (Germany), Salzburg and Vienna (both Austria), as well as the automotive business consultancy EFS Unternehmensberatung GmbH (head office in Vienna, Austria), discovered that facial features were consistently associated with car fronts using eye tracking.
The direction of gaze when asked to compare
“eyes”, “nose”, “mouth” and “ears” of a human face and a car front
revealed that humans associate headlights with eyes, the grille with
the nose, the additional air-intake or the grille with the mouth as
well as the side-view mirrors with the ears—independently of brand and
car model. The analogy of car fronts and faces was also obvious on a
more subconscious level: Irrespective of the actual task, the
headlights of the cars were fixated most, which parallels the role of
eyes in face perception.
This supports the widely held belief that car fronts might be interpreted face-like, which opens up novel possibilities for automotive design and marketing. Consequences for driving and pedestrian behavior yield a fascinating direction for future research.
This study has been published in Collegium Antropologicum:
Windhager S., Hutzler F., Carbon C.-C., Oberzaucher E., Schaefer K., Thorstensen T.,
Leder H., Grammer K. (2010). Laying eyes on headlights: Eye movements suggest facial features in cars. Collegium Antropologicum 34(3) 1075–1080.