Human walking behavior: the effect of density on walking speed and direction

Frohnwieser, Anna (2012) Human walking behavior: the effect of density on walking speed and direction. Masters thesis, University of Vienna.

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Frohnwieser 2012 Human walking behavior
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Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Item Status:Live Archive


Humans have a natural desire to keep a certain physical distance from other humans.
This distance is called personal space (or personal distance). Edward T. Hall (1966) describes
it as a distance of 45 to 120cm kept from each other, a which people can touch if they extend
their arms and see each other clearly, but not asa whole. Humans always try to keep this
minimum distance to strangers, but might let familiar people closer, depending on their
relationship. If personal space isinvaded without consent it comes to physical reactions such
as increased heart rate, sweating and increased blood pressure (Middlemist and Knowles,
1976). We simply feel uncomfortable when others come too close.
Personal space is well described for standing and seated test subjects (e.g. Newman
and Pollack, 1973; Thompson et al., 1979;Hayduk and Mainprize, 1980; Hayduk, 1981;
Strube and Werner, 1984; Evans and Wener, 2007; Robson, 2008), but not for walking
people. Gérin-Lajoie and his colleagues (Gérin-Lajoie et al., 2006; Gérin-Lajoie et al., 2008)
described minimum distances that pedestrians keep from stationary and moving obstacles,
which were used as a basis for this study. Using a newly developed system called CCB
Analyser the walking patterns of pedestrians in an Austrian shopping center were recorded.
Data included number and frequency of people,average speed, speed changes and number of
speed changes, direction changes and number of direction changes, and two different
measures for personal space, one being personal space in circles around stationary recording
frames and the other being personal space for pedestrians that plan their paths ahead.
The tested hypothesis was that high density and low interpersonal distance leads to a
change of walking behavior – increasing walking speed because of stress (Konečni et al.,
1975) and making people change their speed and directions whenwalking. The results of the
present study show that all measured variables seem to highly depend on each other. We
could at least partly confirm the hypothesis ofpeople walking faster when personal space is
invaded. People changed their walking speed and direction to a higher degree at high
densities, however the percentage of people changing their walking behavior was the same or
even smaller.
These results offer a first insight into the relationship of human walking behavior and
personal space, but much more research needs to be done on this topic.

Keywords:Walking behaviour, Personal space, Pedestrian
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
L Social studies > L600 Anthropology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
Relation typeTarget identifier
ID Code:14639
Deposited On:07 Aug 2014 14:08

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