Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)


Kinesiology and Physical Education


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Cinelli

Advisor Role



The ability to perceive and react to visual information is critical for avoiding a collision with an approaching obstacle. The perception-action system undergoes a prolonged period of development and as a result, children make more last-minute locomotor adjustments than adults when avoiding stationary obstacles. The purpose of this thesis was to compare the avoidance behaviours of middle-aged children (10-12 years old) to young adults (YA) during a head-on collision course with an approaching virtual pedestrian (VP). Children (N=16, 10.8 0.75 years; 8 males) and YA (N=16, 22.94 2.08 years; 7 males) were immersed in a virtual environment using the HTC Vive Pro 2 head-mounted display. Participants were instructed to walk along an 8m pathway, towards a goal, while avoiding a collision with a VP who approached at one of three speeds: 0.8x, 1.0x, or 1.2x the participant’s average walking speed. During each trial, the VP would approach along the midline and steer to the left, right, or continue walking straight. Results revealed a significant difference in the onset of deviation between groups, with children (1.65 ± 0.17s) deviating later than YA (1.52 ± 0.10s). Additionally, children were more variable in their onset of deviation and time-to-contact. Findings from this study demonstrate children have similar avoidance behaviours to YA, as both groups successfully used perceptual information to determine how to avoid a collision. However, children had a later onset of deviation and greater variability in their avoidance behaviours than adults. These results suggest that although middle-aged children are able to successfully avoid collisions, they employ different avoidance strategies than adults. Therefore, by 10-12 years of age, children appear to not have fully developed adult-like perceptual-motor skills.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Saturday, August 29, 2026