The opening line of a recent high profile article, you'll probably have seen these results elsewhere too:
A study commissioned by a phallically named insurance company proves beyond all doubt that the unbridled roar of an Italian supercar turns women on but the soft purr of a fuel-efficient econobox doesn't stimulate anyone's MPG-spot.
It's from a respected source, Wired. It specifically says "proves beyond all doubt".
David Moxon subjected 40 men and women to the sounds of a Maserati, Lamborghini and Ferrari, then measured the amount of testosterone in their saliva. He found everyone had higher levels of the stuff -- a measure of their arousal -- after hearing the revving exotics, but the amount the women had was off the charts.
According to a woman who actually read the study: "Testosterone increases in a number of situations besides arousal. For example, when a person is feeling aggressive, their testosterone goes up. I don't know about anyone else, but loud engine noises annoy the crap out of me. So were the people with higher testosterone levels fantasizing about sex in the greedmobiles or were they fantasizing about taking a sledgehammer and beating them into little, tiny, noiseless pieces?"
The study was commissioned by the ultra-exclusive British insurer Hiscox (we swear we're not making this up), which was curious to know how people respond to high-end luxury cars.
The research was funded by a company that specialises in high performance vehicles. If the results encourage more people to buy small volkswagens then less revenue for the insurer. If it appears to encourage high performance sales, even slightly, then potential win for the study sponsor. It's about the most prejudiced sponsor you could imagine. It's like a study funded by a vitamin pill salesman suggesting that people who take vitamin pills are more healthy.
"We knew owners of luxury cars felt a connection with the sound of their vehicles," says Steve Langan, managing director of the insurance company. "We have now scientifically proven the physical attraction people feel when it comes to cars."
Scientifically proven? Bullshit.