Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

Psychologically-based simulation of human behaviour

Stephen Julian Rymill

June 2008, 250 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted 2006 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Jesus College.


The simulation of human behaviour is a key area of computer graphics as there is currently a great demand for animations consisting of virtual human characters, ranging from film special effects to building design. Currently, animated characters can either be laboriously created by hand, or by using an automated system: however, results from the latter may still look artificial and require much further manual work.

The aim of this work is to improve the automated simulation of human behaviour by making use of ideas from psychology research; the ways in which this research has been used are made clear throughout this thesis. It has influenced all aspects of the design:

• Collision avoidance techniques are based on observed practices.

• Actors have simulated vision and attention.

• Actors can be given a variety of moods and emotions to affect their behaviour.

This thesis discusses the benefits of the simulation of attention; this technique recreates the eye movements of each actor, and allows each actor to build up its own mental model of its surroundings. It is this model that the actor then uses in its decisions on how to behave: techniques for collision prediction and collision avoidance are discussed. On top of this basic behaviour, variability is introduced by allowing all actors to have different sets of moods and emotions, which influence all aspects of their behaviour. The real-time 3D simulation created to demonstrate the actors’ behaviour is also described.

This thesis demonstrates that the use of techniques based on psychology research leads to a qualitative and quantitative improvement in the simulation of human behaviour; this is shown through a variety of pictures and videos, and by results of numerical experiments and user testing. Results are compared with previous work in the field, and with real human behaviour.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Rymill, Stephen Julian},
  title = 	 {{Psychologically-based simulation of human behaviour}},
  year = 	 2008,
  month = 	 jun,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-717}