There is nothing quite like being behind the wheel of a new car. It just makes you feel great. It's clean, has that new car smell, shine and everything is in tip-top shape from bumper to bumper.
That brings us to a new first-of-its-kind industry study unveiled by Jiffy Lube. It takes a look at how the state of your vehicle -- clean vs dirty for example -impacts your well-being. In the biometric study, researchers used neuroscience and quantitative research to understand how the state of drivers' vehicles can affect how they feel about them. As you might imagine, clean, well-kept vehicles evoked a much more positive emotional response than dirty ones that were not kept up well.
Researchers conducted the study using electroencephalogram (EEG). They outfitted study participants with caps that had electrodes on them to evaluate positive and negative responses to stimuli in four categories: dashboard warning lights, external car issues, dirty and disorganized vehicles, and heavy traffic.
The study revealed that well-cared vehicles, free of damage, engine issues and dirt and debris, can be a sanctuary. But vehicles that are dirty and disorganized, or have dashboard warning lights on and so on, evoke negative emotions and make people feel like they're not in control and in some cases want to avoid their vehicle all together.
Researchers say participants had the most negative biometric responses to photos of dirty cars and dashboard indicated lights. They further reported feeling discomfort and disgust when exposed to images of dirty and disorganized cars, though most felt like fixing those situations was in their control. Images of dashboard indicator lights led to negative emotions as well with the added negative feeling of having no control over the situation.
Researchers say the study was designed to understand the evolving relationships people have with their vehicles, particularly in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that vehicles do not become an additional source of stress in an already stressful world.
"The results of this study are pretty compelling, in that we better understand how to empower consumers to take control of their vehicle maintenance," said Sara Smith, CMO of Jiffy Lube International, Inc. "Consumers have a lot to juggle on their priority lists today and the reality is that vehicle maintenance can sometimes take a back seat. However, understanding the negative emotional impact of delaying this type of maintenance on drivers' wellbeing gives us insight into improving our service and experience."
Researchers say the study, which was conducted by HCD Research, eliminates many of the biases found in more traditional research methods like omnibus surveys or focus groups, by allowing researchers to uncover not only what makes people feel a certain way, but also why they feel a certain way.
"When we designed the study, we expected that there would be negative responses to the stimuli," said Dr. Michelle Niedziela, PhD and VP of Research and Innovation at HCD Research. "What we did not expect was how much feeling in or out of control also contributed to negative emotions."
Something to think about the next time you hop behind the wheel.