Research on the mechanisms and processes underlying navigation has traditionally been limited by the
practical problems of setting up and controlling navigation in a real-world setting. Thanks to advances in technology, a growing number of researchers are making use of computer-based virtual environments to draw inferences about real-world navigation. However, little research has been done on factors affecting human–computer interactions in navigation tasks. In this study female students completed a virtual
route learning task and filled out a battery of questionnaires, which determined levels of computer experience, wayfinding anxiety, neuroticism, extraversion, psychoticism and immersive tendencies as well as their preference for a route or survey strategy. Scores on personality traits and individual differences were then correlated with the time taken to complete the navigation task, the length of path travelled,the velocity of the virtual walk and the number of errors.
Navigation performance was significantly influenced by wayfinding anxiety, psychoticism, involvement and overall immersive tendencies and was improved in those participants who adopted a survey strategy. In other words, navigation in virtual environments is effected not only by navigational strategy, but also an individual’s personality, and other factors such as their level of experience with computers. An
understanding of these differences is crucial before performance in virtual environments can be generalised
to real-world navigational performance.