Research output

Conference Paper (in Formal Publication) ()

Reflections on a virtual experiment addressing human behavior during epidemics

Delaney L, Kleczkowski A, Maharaj S, Rasmussen S & Williams L (2013) Reflections on a virtual experiment addressing human behavior during epidemics In: SummerSim '13 2013 Summer Simulation Multiconference Toronto, Canada — July 07 - 10, 2013 , Vista, CA: Society for Modeling & Simulation International. Summer Computer Simulation Conference 2013, 7.7.2013 - 10.7.2013, Toronto, Canada, p. Article 33.

We report on preliminary results from a pilot study using a virtual experiment to analyse human behavior during epidemics of an infectious disease. The experiment used a two-dimensional computer game representing an epidemic scenario, linked to an agent-based simulation of an epidemic spreading through a large population. 230 participants played the game and completed questionnaires about their characteristics in relation to a psychological model of health behaviour, Protection Motivation Theory. The results show that participants responded to increasing infection load in their local neighbourhood by reducing their social contacts, as they would be expected to do in reality. However, there was no correlation between the strength of this response and a number of psychological factors that are known to be associated with health protective behavior in the real world. This suggests that participants might not have responded to the game in the same way they would respond to a real epidemic. We discuss possible explanations for this mismatch, drawing on ideas from experimental behavioral economics, psychology, computer game design, and the study of virtual worlds, and suggest ways in which our experimental methodology could be improved to produce a more realistic response.

participatory simulation; virtual experiments; behavioral economics; health psychology; epidemics

AuthorsDelaney Liam, Kleczkowski Adam, Maharaj Savi, Rasmussen Susan, Williams Lynn
Title of seriesSimulation series
Number in series45.11
Publication date07/2013
Date of public distribution07/2013
PublisherSociety for Modeling & Simulation International
Place of publicationVista, CA
ISSN of series 0735-9276
ISBN 978-1-62748-276-9

Simulation Series (2013)

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
My Portal