Social density and building layout: The experience of crowding in wayfinding

Kristina Jazuk, Panagiotis Mavros, Tyler Thrash, Victor Schinazi, Christoph Holscher

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


The physical environment we navigate in has spatial and social components. Spatial aspects, such as distance, direction, visibility, or connectivity, are one part of the experience and information processed, determining wayfinding decisions. And yet, there is little research on the other part, namely the social environment in relation to spatial navigation. Pedestrians may perceive the co-presence of other people, in small groups or larger crowds, as obstacles to efficient locomotion, but equally as social cues to reaching a destination
(‘following the crowd’). The goal of this research is threefold. We investigate (1) the impact of the spatial layout/characteristics and (2) the effects of social
density, i.e., varying numbers of people present in the environment, on wayfinding behavior, as well as individual emotional and stress responses, and finally (3) disentangle the dynamic interaction between these two factors, i.e., spatial configuration and social density.
A wayfinding experiment was conducted in a shopping mall in Singapore, under varying levels of social density. The preliminary results support the assumption of the dynamic interaction between the factors, as participants (n = 40) in the low and high density conditions showed systematic preferences for different routes. Similarly, emotional appraisal, measured with a standardised questionnaire, (Self Assessment Manikin SAM, Bradley and Lang 1981), varied significantly on the dimension of dominance (situational control), but not
valence or arousal. Participants in the high density condition tended to
choose the route with higher footfall, and indicated that they feel more in control of the situation. We discuss the implications of the multi-cultural environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S42
Number of pages1
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue numberSuppl 1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event7th International Conference on Spatial Cognition: Spatial Cognition in a Multimedia and Intercultural World - Rome, Italy
Duration: 10 Sept 201814 Sept 2018
Conference number: 7th


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