03/20/2013 12:31 pm ET

Baby, You Can't Drive My Car

Clotaire Rapaille, a French-born psychiatrist-turned-marketer, has a theory about what women want in cars. In focus groups, Rapaille uses Jungian psychoanalysis to probe consumers until they reveal the unconscious “archetypes” that supposedly reside in their “reptilian” brains, steering them toward certain purchases. It was the soft gruntings of subjects’ reptilian brains, Rapaille says, that clued him in to the fact that women are obsessed with cup holders. Cup holders signify coffee, he says, and coffee signifies safety, and safety is what women want most in cars.

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