Route choice in virtual environments: the effect of environment size, destination visibility, and regional boundaries
Choosing one route among multiple route options represent a navigation task that is influenced by many environmental factors. Several rules have been found that guide how navigators choose a route among several route alternatives. Those rules are called route choice principles. The current project investigates the effect of three environmental factors on people’s route choice in a new task paradigm: choose one route among two route options to reach an initial destination when locations of later destinations are indicated. The three environment factors investigated are: size of the environment, visibility of later destinations, and regionalization in the environment. The current project tested, using virtual environments, the influence of these three factors on the recently-found “later-destination-attractor” (LDA) effect. Existing literature suggests that navigators’ route choices adhere to different route choice principles in small-size versus large-size environments. We hypothesized that it is the memory load instead of environment size that makes a difference regarding which route choice principle navigators follow. Existing literature also suggests that the influence of regionalization in the environment, defined as how the environment is perceived as divided into different regions, differ between individuals who are and who are not sensitive to regions in the environment. The current project pits the regionalization effect against the LDA effect. We hypothesized that the general population could be categorized into two groups: region-sensitive and region-insensitive. Finally, we hypothesized that left-handers and right-handers would differ in their route preferences regardless of environmental factors.