What’s in Your Head? Your Car Choice May Reveal a Lot

Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller says purchase choices of things like cars show a person’s creativity, intelligence, and other personality traits. Miller says we make this type of purchase strategically, mostly to attract a mate. Dr. Leon James of the University of Hawaii has been studying the psychology of driving for over 20 years and has found that drivers idealize their cars and even anthropomorphize them — that is, give them human traits (like names and personality aspects).

What does your car mean to you? Here are a few psychological insights into the people behind the wheel of some popular vehicle types.

Sports Cars

If you drive a convertible sports car, you’re more likely to be outdoorsy and energetic according to some psychologists. Put that top down and hit the open road!

Pickup Trucks

You might think that women are more likely to buy a minivan than a pickup truck. Not so, according to an R.K. Polk survey that shows that women buy as many pickup trucks as they do minivans. The average age of female Ford truck owners is 43 years old. Did you know that American women bought more than 250,000 pickup trucks in 2004?


If you own a hybrid car, chances are that you earn $100,000 or more per year. And your vehicle choice may say something about how you got there — a 2011 J.D. Power survey found that 75% of people considering a green vehicle purchase were more interested in saving money on fuel than saving the environment.


Cool, calm, and aloof, you don’t mind driving something that’s more popular.


You may be rebellious. Since the 1980s, this car color has been on the rise. About 17% of all cars sold are black, including nearly 30% of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.


This might be a company car or a rented vehicle. Other studies suggest that owners seeking status choose this vehicle color.


Do you shy away from red cars because you’re worried that they attract more speeding tickets and thieves than other car colors? These two assumptions seem to be based on urban legends. So don’t be afraid to drive off the lot in a little candy apple red number.


According to a Pantone color expert, people who own purple cars are creative and individualistic. If you know what a Pantone color expert is, you may fit the bill for this car color.

Emerald Green

Drivers of emerald green cars stand out in the crowd not just for their brightly colored cars but also for their upbeat attitudes. Think green with optimism instead of green with envy. Think it’ll catch on?

Why did you choose your car? What are some common car stereotypes you often think about? Let us know in the comments.