Application of Virtual Reality in the study of Human Behavior in Fire: Pursuing realistic behavior in evacuation experiments

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

Abstract

Virtual Reality (VR) experiments are used to study human behavior in fire because they allow simulation of fire events with relatively low risks to the participants, while maintaining high levels of experimental control. Many
studies have used VR experiments to explore aspects of the human response to fire threats, but VR experiments as a research method are yet to be subjected to a systematic process of validation. One way to validate VR experiments is to compare VR data to data obtained using other research methods, e.g., case studies, laboratory experiments, and field experiments. Five independent VR experiments were designed to collect data that could be then compared to data collected using other research methods. Both datasets, VR and physical, are then
compared with each other to assess similarities and differences between them. Results show that participants in the VR experiments often acted like people did in the physical-world events. Moreover, Human Behavior in Fire theories that explain the behavior of victims in real fires were found to also explain the participants’ behavior in the VR experiments. There were differences between VR and physical-world samples, which highlighted limitations of VR experiments or aspects about realism that need to be considered when designing VR experiments. Visual realism is not enough for participants to interpret a virtual fire emergency as a threat. Therefore, VR experiments need to induce participants to take the virtual fire event seriously. Social norms that apply in physical world contexts may not emerge naturally in virtual environments, and measures should be taken to enhance behavioral realism in VR. These findings are a meaningful contribution to the development of the VR experiment method for collection of behavioral data.

Details

Authors
Organisations
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Civil Engineering

Keywords

  • Virtual Reality, behavioral realism, fire evacuation, VR experiments
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2021 Jun 18
Place of PublicationLund
Publisher
  • Division of Fire Safety Engineering, Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-7895-867-2
Electronic ISBNs978-91-7895-868-9
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 25
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2021-06-18 Time: 13:00 Place: Lecture hall V:C, building V, John Ericssons väg 1, Faculty of Engineering LTH, Lund University, Lund. For online link, contact hakan.frantzich@brand.lth.se External reviewer(s) Name: Lawrence, Peter Title: Dr. Affiliation: University of Greenwich, United Kingdom. ---

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