Road crossing decisions in real and virtual environments: A comparative study on simulator validity

Date Published:

2020 Mar

Abstract:

Virtual reality (VR) is a valuable tool for the assessment of human perception and behavior in a risk-free environment. Investigators should, however, ensure that the used virtual environment is validated in accordance with the experiment's intended research question since behavior in virtual environments has been shown to differ to behavior in real environments. This article presents the street crossing decisions of 30 participants who were facing an approaching vehicle and had to decide at what moment it was no longer safe to cross, applying the step-back method. The participants executed the task in a real environment and also within a highly immersive VR setup involving a head-mounted display (HMD). The results indicate significant differences between the two settings regarding the participants' behaviors. The time-to-contact of approaching vehicles was significantly lower for crossing decisions in the virtual environment than for crossing decisions in the real one. Additionally, it was demonstrated that participants based their crossing decisions in the real environment on the temporal distance of the approaching vehicle (i.e., time-to-contact), whereas the crossing decisions in the virtual environment seemed to depend on the vehicle's spatial distance, neglecting the vehicle's velocity. Furthermore, a deeper analysis suggests that crossing decisions were not affected by factors such as the participant's gender or the order in which they faced the real and the virtual environment.

Last updated on 03/31/2020