Physiological Arousal Quantifying Perception of Safe and Unsafe Virtual Environments by Older and Younger Adults

Sofia Leite, Miguel S. Dias, Sara Eloy, João Freitas, Sibila Marques, Tiago Pedro, Lázaro Ourique
2019 Sensors  
Physiological arousal has been increasingly applied to monitor exploration (or navigation) of a virtual environment (VE), especially when the VE is designed to evoke an anxiety-related response. The present work aims to evaluate human physiological reactions to safe and unsafe VEs. We compared the effect of the presence of handrails in the VE in two different samples, young and older adults, through self-reports and physiological data: Electrodermal activation (EDA) and electrocardiogram (ECG)
more » ... ensors. After navigation, self-report questionnaires were administered. We found that the VEs evoked a clearly differentiated perception of safety and unsafety demonstrated through self-reports, with older adults being more discriminative in their responses and reporting a higher sense of presence. In terms of physiological data, the effect of handrails did not provoke significant differences in arousal. Safety was better operationalized by discriminating neutral/non-neutral spaces, where the reaction of older adults was more pronounced than young adults. Results serve as a basis for orienting future experiments in the line of VE and applied physiology usage in the architectural spaces design process. This specific work also provided a basis for the development of applications that integrate virtual reality and applied biofeedback, tapping into mobility and ageing.
doi:10.3390/s19112447 fatcat:zwgu26b5gfgahblhhmj44cuyji