Men's emotions are stirred more by the sight of a beautiful car than a crying baby, according to state-of-the-art brainwave analysis.
But women are clearly governed by maternal rather than motoring instincts as their emotional response to the wail of an infant was found to be double that of the brain activity observed when looking at a car, the study revealed.
The research shows that men are 'genetically programmed' to drool over a flash motor, said car giant Volvo, who commissioned the tests.
Some may argue that the test results are self-serving for Volvo, but sophisticated technology was involved in the study, with both men and women being wired up to specialist machines that monitor the electrical impulses in the brain.
The impulses indicate the brain's emotional responses - the stronger the impulses, the greater the emotions being felt.
The volunteers were then shown visual images of cars considered to be plain, ugly or beautiful – they included a futuristic Volvo prototype, not the functional saloons the maker is famous for - and 1950s models.
They were also shown photos of attractive or non-attractive men and women and crying babies.
It found the strongest brain impulses among men was to a picture of a beautiful woman, followed by that of a curvy 'concept' coupe with a crying baby picture down in third.
Women, however, reacted strongest to the image of a baby and then to the picture of an attractive man more than any feelings towards a beautiful motor.
Volvo, which claims the experiment to be the first of its kind, said it shows how the design of a car and evoke powerful feelings 'on a par with the most basic of human emotions'.
The Swedish company said it was trying to design models that would build an 'emotive connection' with owners.
In a separate survey of 2,000 adults, four in ten (43 per cent) men said the design of a car was more important than added extras or the feel of the interior.
Volvo design chief Thomas Ingenlath said: ‘This survey finally proves what we've always suspected.
‘Beautiful car design can elicit strong emotional responses ranging from a positive frame of mind to a sense of empowerment.’
Neuroscientist Dr David Lewis said: ‘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.’