Navigation in virtual environments using head-mounted displays: Allocentric vs. egocentric behaviors

Hadziq Fabroyir, Wei Chung Teng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


User behaviors while navigating virtual environments (VEs) using head-mounted displays (HMDs) were investigated. Particularly, spatial behaviors were observed and analyzed with respect to the virtual navigation preferences and performance. For this, two distinct navigation strategies applying allocentric and egocentric spatial perspectives were used. Participants utilized two different user interfaces (i.e., a multitouch screen and a gamepad) to employ the aforementioned strategies to perform a series of rotation, surge motion, and navigation tasks. Two allocentric and two egocentric metaphors for motion techniques—digital map, canoe paddle, steering wheel, and wheelchair—were established. User preferences for these motion techniques across the tasks were then observed, and their task performances on the two given interfaces were compared. Results showed that the participants preferred to apply egocentric techniques to orient and move within the environment. The results also demonstrated that the participants performed faster and were less prone to errors while using a gamepad, which manifests egocentric navigation. Results from workload measurements with the NASA-TLX and a brain-computer interface showed the gamepad to be superior to the multitouch screen. The relationships among spatial behaviors (i.e., allocentric and egocentric behaviors), gender, video gaming experience, and user interfaces in virtual navigation were also examined. It was found that female participants tended to navigate the VE allocentrically, while male participants were likely to navigate the VE egocentrically, especially while using a non-natural user interface such as the gamepad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-343
Number of pages13
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • EEG
  • HMD
  • Spatial behavior
  • Virtual navigation
  • Virtual reality


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