Amber Callan | Visual vs Physical Environment Assessments
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Date: Fall 2015

This research study investigates the effect of environment presentation medium on assessment ratings of the environment. The first study used a polling place as the environment of interest while the second study used a Rice University classroom as the environment of interest. In both studies, participants either viewed the environment in person, through a photograph or through a computer rendering. Then they all took a survey on a laptop computer which contained a series of questions regarding certain aspects of the environment (i.e. usability, preference, pleasure, etc.).

Once the study was completed, the survey data was analyzed through a between subjects design. In the voting booth study, the average rating of environmental assessment was higher in the physical environment (M = 2.9374) than the rating using a photograph (M = 2.6811) or a rendering (M = 2.4795). After further analysis, these averages have a statistically significant difference between three means, p < 0.001, and between sets of two means, all p < 0.05. In the classroom study, the average rating of environment assessment was higher in the physical environment (M = 3.2937) than the rating using a photograph (M = 3.1887) or a rendering (M = 3.2289). After further analysis, while these averages do show a similar trend when compared to the voting booth study, their differences are not statistically significant when compared between three means, p = 0.62. The individual sets of means do not have statistically significant differences either, 0.34 < p < 0.67. Therefore, when presenting an environment to a participant, it may be necessary to first see whether the medium affects the ratings and make decisions from there. This could have future implications on whether physical or virtual environments are presented to participants.

Here are the polling place images we used to test participants:

DSC_0826 votingrender