Friday Silly Science

By Sean Carroll | September 5, 2008 1:16 pm

Women are from Maserati, men are from Lamborghini. At least, that’s what science tells us:

To test the theory that high-performance cars get people hot, Moxon had 40 men and women listen to recordings of the three Italian exotics and a Volkswagen Polo. Everyone had significantly more testosterone after hearing the exotics, and all of the women were turned on by the Maserati. The guys, on the other hand, were drawn to the Lamborghini…

As for the Polo? Everyone had less testosterone after listening to it.

The effect could simply be related to Italian cars vs. German cars, of course, rather than the high-performance engines. No word on how Porsches would stack up against Grecavs. Clearly more research needs to be done.

Note that the Wired blog post is entitled “Science Proves Exotic Cars Turn Women On,” but the study indicates that men are turned on as well. A fast car is equal-opportunity sexy.

  • snoozebar

    Did they test Priuses? Or Honda Fits? Practical = sexy awesome. I live in Silicon Valley and see plenty of Italian sports cars, and usually what I think isn’t “hot” but “compensating.”

  • Matt

    Silly how?

    Tell me how this has added to our understanding of the universe any less than the latest theoretical probing of Calabi Yau space.

  • John R Ramsden

    I can never understand why people like those vulgar noisy cars, however expensive and flash. Give me my Jaguar XJ Executive any time.

    Mine was second hand, £6000 (c. $8,000 and falling) and never goes wrong. Loads of leg room, quiet as a mouse, and goes like a rocket when you floor it.

    I believe you also drive a Jag, Sean, so that’s one thing we have in common 😉

  • mac

    The sex-car thesis leaves me cold. Don’t get it. Unless … I happen to be driving a Lamborghini with an attractive woman in the passenger’s seat. But car (even flash car) as sex machine … nah.

    Speed on the other hand can be an aphrodisiac (velocity not amphetamines – possibly both). High revs in the right company can quite stimulating.

    There was a weird story on Drudge a while back about a dude who enjoys having sex with cars. There was actually a pic of him fondling one … looked like a Nissan. The article didn’t go into the technical challenges involved.

  • Lab Lemming

    Couldn’t high testosterone also = scared, or angry?

  • spyder

    Inquiring minds need to know; where were the F1 engines and the P1 Le Mans class roadsters. Did they bring out a Mclaren or a Brabham??? We need to test these against the Italians as part of this grand experiment!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Will men and women be turned on by the silence of a Tesla Roadster?

  • Kai

    Uhm…anyone else associates fast driving with “really really late for the airport, going to a job talk” ? Not the good adrenalin. 😉

  • Michaela

    IgNobel Prize?

  • thomas

    I wonder where they found those people. Probably, they put out ads asking for people who like cars? What a surprise that the people they found for this study are the kind of people who would respond in this way?

  • Boltzmann’s Reptilian Brain

    “Did they test Priuses? Or Honda Fits?”

    In view of the effects of the Polo, let’s hope not.

    Plenty of Lamborghinis around where I live. These things speak straight to the reptilian brain. Tell me that they are impractical and bad for the environment. Just don’t tell me you don’t lust for one!

  • ObsessiveMathsFreak

    Please don’t encourage junk science studies by linking to them on your blog. This type of experiment has more to do with grabbing headlines in the popular press than it has to do with serious and practical research. I would advise not giving them any oxygen.

  • Tyler

    I once had a Job From Hell that required a lot of interaction with exotic and collectible car owners (and their cars). Those people are – in my personal and pseudo humble opinion – this biggest bunch of jackasses I have yet had the misfortune to encounter, with Lamborghini owners the infamous worst.

    (this doesn’t go for the real gearhead types who love old exotics and collectibles, who are a friendly and harmless bunch of obsessives. They mostly are into MGs, old Jags, Porsche 911s, comically undependable cheap Italian cars, and American stuff from the 50s and 60’s – the sort of thing you have to work on a lot to keep it tight. It’s not my hobby, but I get it)

    It’s very funny to me how cheap you can pick up a used Lambo. In the society where they are status symbols, the reason most people own them is not so much to drive them as to show that they can afford to make the purchase. For this reason, a five-year-old status exotic is worse than worthless – it means “I used to have money to spend, but now I don’t.” If you’re in the hunt for a used one, tho, keep in mind that the yearly maintenance costs run well into the five figures.

    Modern Maseratis are hilarious to me. The styling is incredibly dull – the Camry has nicer lines, for heaven’s sake.

    I’ve driven several of the exotics and they’re mostly just a pain in the @$$ to handle. Give me a E-type Jag or 911T any time – the latter is hands-down the most fun-to-drive car I’ve ever been in, as fast as it needs to be and handles like it’s nailed to the road.


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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