Validation of virtual reality as a tool to understand and prevent child pedestrian injury

Academic Article


  • In recent years, virtual reality has emerged as an innovative tool for health-related education and training. Among the many benefits of virtual reality is the opportunity for novice users to engage unsupervised in a safe environment when the real environment might be dangerous. Virtual environments are only useful for health-related research, however, if behavior in the virtual world validly matches behavior in the real world. This study was designed to test the validity of an immersive, interactive virtual pedestrian environment. A sample of 102 children and 74 adults was recruited to complete simulated road-crossings in both the virtual environment and the identical real environment. In both the child and adult samples, construct validity was demonstrated via significant correlations between behavior in the virtual and real worlds. Results also indicate construct validity through developmental differences in behavior; convergent validity by showing correlations between parent-reported child temperament and behavior in the virtual world; internal reliability of various measures of pedestrian safety in the virtual world; and face validity, as measured by users' self-reported perception of realism in the virtual world. We discuss issues of generalizability to other virtual environments, and the implications for application of virtual reality to understanding and preventing pediatric pedestrian injuries. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Schwebel DC; Gaines J; Severson J
  • Start Page

  • 1394
  • End Page

  • 1400
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 4