Crowd Dynamics in Virtual Reality

  • Max KinatederEmail author
  • Trenton D. Wirth
  • William H. Warren
Part of the Modeling and Simulation in Science, Engineering and Technology book series (MSSET)


Collecting empirical data on crowd dynamics is challenging. The methods available to researchers typically need to compromise between ecological validity and experimental control. The goal of this chapter is to demonstrate that virtual reality (VR) offers a promising solution to the dilemma. The first section of this chapter introduces VR as a research tool and touches on its strengths and weaknesses. The second section covers a range of studies in which VR was used to study crowds, beginning with a discussion of differences between human behavior in real and virtual settings (e.g., walking and social interactions). Using the behavioral dynamics framework as a theoretical foundation, several studies demonstrating that people coordinate dynamically with their neighbors in a crowd are presented, contributing toward a data-driven approach to modeling human crowds. Then, a series of VR studies that cover various aspects of crowd behavior in emergency evacuation scenarios are introduced, covering topics such as evacuation decision-making, way-finding, and exit choice when people evacuate in a crowd. Finally, the third section of this chapter offers an outlook on the road ahead, discussing some of the technical and methodological challenges for VR as a research tool.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Kinateder
    • 1
    Email author
  • Trenton D. Wirth
    • 2
  • William H. Warren
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.Department of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological SciencesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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