A multimodal measurement approach using narratives and eye tracking to investigate visual behaviour in perceiving naturalistic and urban environments

Choudhry, Khizar Zaman (2015) A multimodal measurement approach using narratives and eye tracking to investigate visual behaviour in perceiving naturalistic and urban environments. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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The notion that exposure to the natural environment positively affects human well-being has been validated by studies showing measured cognitive, psychological, and physiological benefit. This research is unique in exploring gaze behaviour on environmental images possessing different levels of saliency by using eye tracking along with traditional data collection techniques for example narratives, connectivity to nature scores and interviews. The majority of existing landscape research has been derived by conducting heuristic evaluations without having empirical insight of real participant visual response. In this research, a modern multimodal measurement approach (using Narratives and Eye tracking) was applied to investigate visual behaviour in perceiving naturalistic and urban environments. Eye behaviour is predominantly attracted by salient locations. The concept of methodology of this research on naturalistic and urban environments is drawn from the approaches in market research. Borrowing methodologies from market research that examine visual responses and qualities provided a critical and hitherto unexplored approach. This research has been conducted by using mixed methodological quantitative and qualitative approaches.

This thesis focuses on two aspects of Human Environment Interaction (HEI).

a) The evaluation of existing environmental research and

b) The use of eye tracking as a supplementary objective environmental evaluation technique.

A combined qualitative and quantitative approach has been used, including a state-of-the-art technique, eye tracking. The eye movement data were complemented by participant-profile data elicited through background questionnaires and participant-perception data as captured through semistructured interviews. This provides an insight into the participant experience that spans behavioural aspects such as visual search behaviour and visual search performance data, and subjective aspects such as participant expectations and preferences.

As a result of this study, when Eye tracking data was collected and analysed two types of responses were observed:

i. Immediate Involuntary Response

ii. Delayed Learned Response

In terms of key finding of this research, it is noticed that each participant has an individual unique navigation style, while surfing through different elements of landscape images. This individual navigation style is termed the ‘Visual Signature’, which is an immediate involuntary response. On the whole, the results of this research corroborated existing landscape research findings, but they also identified potential refinements. The research contributes both methodologically and empirically to Human-Environment Interaction (HEI). This research focused on initial impressions of environmental images with the help of eye tracking. Taking under consideration the importance of the image, this research explored the factors that influence initial fixations in relation to expectations and preferences. This research adds the necessary clarity that would complete the picture and bring an insight for future landscape researchers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Date: December 2015
Subjects: K100 Architecture
K300 Landscape Design
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Architecture and Design
REF UoA Output Collections > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2017 12:01
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2017 12:01
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4855

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