Human Representation in Street Plans and Predicted Walking Behavior
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An experiment was carried out to test whether the inclusion of humans in images of streetscape plans could affect the public’s response to questions about walking and safety. Researchers hypothesized that including humans in streetscape images would cause participants to rate images as more walkable and more safe. Participants representing members of the public were randomly divided into two groups and saw the same streetscape plan images either including or excluding images of humans, depending on the group assigned. Participants rated the series of images against two metrics, likelihood to walk in a space and likelihood to feel safe in the space represented. The experiment returned no significant results and did not support the claims that including humans in streetscape images affects the public’s likelihood to walk or feel safe in the space represented. The experiment did, however, result in a strong positive correlation between the scores given to both walkability and safety for the images shown for both the group that saw images including humans and the group who saw images excluding them. This finding is consistent with prior research. Researchers suggest further study on the representation styles used to depict humans in urban plans as well as experiments testing a larger number of images. Researchers further suggest related qualitative experiments in order to understand what aspects of images are being responded to by the public. Further research on visualization bias will allow urban planners to communicate more clearly and effectively with members of the public.