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The 'Chicken Experiment'

A subject avoids an avatar (a white male in this case) in the Chicken Experiment
A subject avoids an avatar (a white male in this case) in the Chicken Experiment

The Chicken game

You may have seen the 'chicken game' in films such as Grease, where two cars drive towards each other at high speed. If both cars stay straight a collision will occur, and the driver who swerves away first to avoid the crash is the 'chicken' and loses the game.

Being a chicken in the Reality Cube

The 'Chicken experiment', set up by E.H. Gordijn, A. Oosterhof and H.K.E. Oldenhuis, focuses on how people respond to certain stereotypes.
Does the subject - subconsciously - respond differently to a white female than to a black male, a skinhead, a Middle Eastern appearance?

Another close encounter of the virtual kind
Another close encounter of the virtual kind


For this experiment, the subject is put in the Reality Cube and has to navigate through a maze of narrow alleys. By physically moving around in the Reality Cube, the subject avoids obstacles and collects coins. Several times within the experiment, a virtual human (an 'avatar') enters the alley and walks straight towards the subject. Even if the subject steps aside a bit, the avatar steps aside as well and keeps on walking straight at the subject. Only when the avatar is really close can it be avoided.

Head tracking sensor information allows us to measure the behaviour of the subject, both to steer the avatar and for later analysis: when does he/she step aside to make way for the avatar, and how is this influenced by the different 'stereotypical' avatars?

More information

To get a quick impression of this experiment, please watch this film of the Chicken Experiment in the Reality Cube.

In June 2005, Psychologie Magazine published an article about the Chicken Experiment: 'Opzij, virtuele griezel!' (in Dutch).

Last modified:21 January 2017 09.07 a.m.