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Journal Article


Klatt WK, Chesham A, Lobmaier JS. PLoS One 2016; 11(7): e0159455.


Center for Cognition, Learning and Memory, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


(Copyright © 2016, Public Library of Science)






Previous research suggests that people tend to see faces in car fronts and that they attribute personality characteristics to car faces. In the present study we investigated whether car design influences pedestrian road-crossing behaviour. An immersive virtual reality environment with a zebra crossing scenario was used to determine a) whether the minimum accepted distance for crossing the street is larger for cars with a dominant appearance than for cars with a friendly appearance and b) whether the speed of dominant-looking cars is overestimated as compared to friendly-looking cars. Participants completed both tasks while either standing on the pavement or on the centre island. We found that people started to cross the road later in front of friendly-looking low-power cars compared to dominant-looking high-power cars, but only if the cars were relatively large in size. For small cars we found no effect of power. The speed of smaller cars was estimated to be higher compared to large cars (size-speed bias). Furthermore, there was an effect of starting position: From the centre island, participants entered the road significantly later (i. e. closer to the approaching car) and left the road later than when starting from the pavement. Similarly, the speed of the cars was estimated significantly lower when standing on the centre island compared to the pavement. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that car fronts elicit responses on a behavioural level.

Language: en


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