Lee, Seunghae and Kline, Rhonda. "Wayfinding Study in Virtual Environments: The Elderly vs. the Younger-Aged Groups," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 5, issue 2 (2011).
This study aims to examine the impact of architectural wayfinding aids on wayfinding performances in comparison of the elderly group and the younger-aged group. An ambulatory healthcare facility was simulated using Virtual Reality (VR) to develop two levels of wayfinding aids for the same environments. The base model included minimal wayfinding aids, and the design model included more wayfinding aids. The VR environment was presented in the form of video in order to test wayfinding performances at three different wayfinding decision points. Results showed that age and wayfinding aids impacted wayfinding performances. The younger-aged group performed wayfinding better compared to the elderly group. Participants who were tested in the design model were more successful in wayfinding compared to the elderly group. The elderly group reported that more salient wayfinding aids such as a big logo and paint colors helped their wayfinding while the younger-aged group reported less salient aids such as door designs as helpful wayfinding aids. When there were minimal wayfinding aids, the elderly participants needed to rely mostly on memory recall by remembering turns or paying close attention. When participants felt that the wayfinding test was difficult, their performances were less successful. Findings in this study suggest that wayfinding design for the elderly should consider the limited ability of recall and therefore, design wayfinding aids more frequently with more salient aids to avoid confusion. The elderly group needed to rely on their limited cognitive ability when there were not enough wayfinding aids, which make them experience difficulties in wayfinding.