Virtual reality

This strand of the project is led by St Andrews University with Edinburgh and Lund Universities. Recent advances in virtual reality technology combine the control and measurement inherent in laboratory experimentation with a level of realism and psychological immersion over and above standard lab designs. Digital products company, MakeReal have created a virtual reality program representing a hypothetical emergency scenario. Research participants will be virtually taken to a recreation of Oxford Street, a famous shopping street in London, where a real “crowd flight” incident occurred in 2017. In this context, an ambiguous loud sound was interpreted by some people as a gunshot leading them to flee. However, the police later revealed that no shots had been fired. Recreating the context of this incident, the research team will analyse people’s response to an ambiguous loud sound in relation to a series of factors, including how other crowd members react, and the participant’s relationship to other crowd members and to authority. Participants’ decision to either ignore, move away from the noise or flee will be registered. In addition, the research team will collect data related to participants’ reaction time, movement speed, trajectory, head movements and gaze patterns. These data will be analysed to provide useful insights into how and why people react to perceived hostile threats in such scenarios.


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