Fifty Shades Of Grey may have sold 100 million copies around the world, but it appears women prefer to read a Jamie Oliver recipe book.
They found E.L James’s sex and bondage blockbuster novel less enjoyable than a cookery book by the celebrity chef, according to scientists who assessed their emotions, body language, and heart rate.
The test was part of an experiment designed to see what really makes a good read when all the marketing hype is stripped away.
Extracts from different genres of books, including thrillers, romantic fiction, sci-fi, non-fiction and erotica, were read by the 50 participants who had an average age of 35.
The most enjoyable genre proved to be "romantic suspense", with a "positive engagement" score of 83 percent.
In contrast, Fifty Shades Of Grey, representing erotica, produced the lowest score of 52 percent and was trumped by Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals on 55 percent.
Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals got 55 percent.
Consultant behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings, who devised the tests, said: "This experiment finally answers the long-debated question about whether to trust your heart or your head, with heart prevailing when choosing the perfect summer read.
"By looking at the difference between conscious enjoyment and sub-conscious enjoyment we have identified “romantic suspense” as the most enjoyable type of literature, keeping readers interested and immersed with elements of surprise, whilst softening any lasting feelings of anxiety with moments of passion and romance."
A psychologist noted volunteers’ body language responses including blink rate, fidgeting, sitting position and facial expression. Pulse rate was also measured to provide an indication of stress and anxiety.
In addition, participants were asked to answer questions about their emotional reaction to what they had read.
Romantic suspense came top of the ‘most enjoyable’ genre list with a score of 83 percent. This was followed by thriller (74 percent), sci-fi and fantasy (60 percent), non-fiction (55 percent) and romance/erotica (52 percent).