Bishop, I. D. & Rohrmann, B. (2003). Subjective responses to simulated and real environments: a comparison. Landscape and Urban Planning 65, 261-277.


In order to assess the validity of computer-generated environment simulations, an empirical field study was conducted. First a computer model of a real urban park environment was developed and used to produce both day light and night time animations of a 3 minute walk into and through the park. The level of visual realism is high with all trees, buildings and hard surfaces correctly textured. Moving vehicles are also included. Sounds recorded on site along the selected path were dubbed onto the animations and recorded on videotape. Then a elaborated questionnaire was constructed which measures respondents' cognitive and affective reactions to the presented environment, including impressions of the area, content retention and comprehension, and their evaluation of the simulations' realism. Four groups of participants saw the animations and were also taken for a walk in the real environment, either in the day or the night condition; for half of them the order of simulation and reality was reversed. The results show that even detailed and time-consuming computer simulations do not necessarily generate the same responses as the corresponding real environment. However, differences between day and night conditions are mostly the same in the simulated as in the real environment, and on the whole viewers accepted the presentation as reasonably valid. The findings elucidate where further development and evaluation is warranted.


Rohrmann, B and Bishop, I D (2002). Subjective responses to computer simulations of urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology 22,319-331.