My Topics

28 January 2019

Training With A Virtual Reality Application Can Help De-escalate Aggression In Public Transport

Employees in public transport are often confronted with aggressive behavior of passengers. To train public transport employees in how to de-escalate aggressive behavior, Romy Blankendaal and her colleagues developed and tested a Virtual Reality (VR) application. This application allows public transport employees to practice their aggression de-escalation skills in interactive scenarios with aggressive virtual characters in VR.

Take aways

  • Virtual Reality is a promising technique to train public transport employees in aggression de-escalation skills.

Study information

  • Who?

    9 participants: 4 researchers, 3 domain experts from public transport, and 2 aggression de-escalation trainers

  • Where?

    The Netherlands

  • How?

    To obtain initial feedback on the application, the researchers organized a small evaluation session. First, participants tried the new application. The VR tablet application was implemented using the game-engine Unity. It allows users to play 10 different scenarios involving aggression in various circumstances (for example, payment problems or noisy youngsters). In each scenario, users can engage in a simulated conversation with a virtual character. Depending on the user’s performance, the virtual character either calms down or becomes more aggressive. Participants evaluated the application afterwards during a group discussion.

Facts and findings

  • The application worked as intended: users could play a variety of scenarios in VR using a multiple choice menu. Users could experience what happened to the aggression of the virtual character in response to their own different behaviors.  
  • Users reported a strong feeling of ‘being present’ in the virtual scenario’s. 
  • Domain experts underlined the usefulness of the application for training purposes. 
  • Interesting fact: From January 2019, the application is used as part of the educational program of the public transport company in Rotterdam (RET).