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Chen Zhou, Ming-Cheng Miao, Yi-Fei Hu, Shu-Guang Kuai; Invisible social space alters human walking behaviours. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):179b. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.179b.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Human walking behaviours are influenced by other people in daily lives. People usually make a detour to keep a certain distance from others in a social scene. There are two hypotheses that explain the behaviour of a detour. The first hypothesis claims that human requires a physical buffer space during walking to avoid collisions with others. The second hypothesis claims people might need a social space to keep a comfortable distance with others during walking. In the current study, we conducted two experiments to compare these two hypotheses. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to steer towards a door which was five meters away in a virtual environment, while a virtual human would be standing at the middle point between the start point and the destination. Participants tended to take a larger detour when the virtual human was facing them, to keep a distance from the virtual human. The results highlighted the importance of social features in guiding walking behaviours. In Experiment 2, participants were asked to bypass a pair of virtual humans. When the two virtual humans were interacting, participants made a larger detour to keep a farther distance from them. The social force model which only considered the physical factors of people, such as spatial position, failed to explain our data. Thus, we built a social interaction field model which quantified the strength of social interaction between people in a social scene. We further combined our model with the social force model. The combined model reached a good fitting performance of our experimental data. These results show that people’s detour behaviours are influenced by the social features of humans and support the hypothesis of invisible human social space.
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