Small Penises and Fast Cars

Small Penises and Fast Cars: evidence of a psychological link

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The Challenge

When Andrew Tate offered to share details of his 33 high emissions sports cars to the climate activist Greta Thunberg, she artfully trolled him with the reply "email me at” The public response was on Greta's side, but what about the science? The link between cars and penis is a cultural trope that has inspired Freudian analysts, evolutionary theorists, comedy writers and even car designers.  Is there really a connection between having a small penis and owning or desiring a sports car?

The same question occurred to Chuck Thompson as he researched his book, The Status Revolution. When he met car dealers to the super-rich, each one would make a veiled, half-joking reference to how a luxury sports cars compensate for male inadequacy. Chuck wanted to know, is this true? Do sports car drivers really have small penises? So he contacted ACN to find out.

The Solution

We quickly realised that we couldn't answer this question with a tape measure or a survey. Penis owners are notoriously dishonest about reporting their size, and sports car owners even more so. One survey found that 43% of car owners said they had a penis larger than average. Sadly, only 12% of their partners shared that opinion. Even if we could use a tape measure to find out the true size of owners of different car types, this would only give us a correlational picture.

The solution was to use a psychological, experimental manipulation. We created an online experiment with the Gorilla platform that made men believe that they had a relatively small or large penis, and then asked them how much they wanted a particular sports car. We did this by mis-informing them that the average size of other men's erect penis was either 18cm, or 10cm. Since we knew our participants, on average, would have penises of around 13cm like everyone else, we reasoned that this false information would make them feel relative well, or poorly, endowed. But would that change what they felt about sports cars?

We informed our 200 male participants that they were taking part in a study of online habits - how people can read the newspaper and shop for products at the same time. To replicate this multitasking, we gave them random facts and then asked them to rate various different consumer products. Hidden amongst all the facts and rating was our critical item, where we gave false information about penis size, and then asked them to rate one of 6 different sports cars. Here are our results.

Sports Car Ratings vs Relative Penis Size

This plot shows that when men felt like they had a relatively small penis (blue dots), they rated the sports cars systematically higher than those who felt they had a large penis (red dots). There was strong evidence that this difference was real when you look at all our participants (left panel), but when we plotted them by age another pattern emerged (right panel). For participants under 29, there was no real effect of penis size on ratings of cars. But as participants aged above 30, there was an increasing difference between those who felt they had small and a large penis. To put it another way, in general, as men aged their sports car ratings declined, but if they felt they had a small penis, they rated the rated the sports cars more highly, like younger men.

One possible explanation for this result is that penis size affected participants' self esteem, and because of that desire for luxury items increased. In other words, this is a general self esteem effect. There's nothing special about sports cars and penises (other than the fact that men are more likely to have both.

However, elsewhere in the experiment, we snuck in other trials that manipulated self esteem in different ways. For example, we gave false information about how much or how little other people give to charity. Here we found that manipulating self esteem in non-penis ways had no effect at all on ratings.

For more details about our methods, data and analyses, please see a pre-print of our manuscript, that is currently under peer review.

In conclusion, the science has come down strongly in favour of Greta Thunberg. While we can't say anything specific about Mr Tate (aged 36), we have proved that in general, if older men feel that they have a small penis, it makes them like sports cars more and more.

For additional information on consumer neuroscience, download our free Guide to Quality Neuromarketing.

Researchers Involved

Prof. Daniel Richardson

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