Virtual vehicles (e.g., driving video games) can give rise to visually induced motion sickness. Typically, people drive virtual vehicles. In the present study, we investigated motion sickness among participants who were exposed to virtual vehicles as passengers; that is, they observed vehicle motion, but did not control it. We also asked how motion sickness and the postural precursors of motion sickness might be influenced by participants’ previous experience of driving physical vehicles. Participants viewed a recording of a virtual automobile in a driving video game. Drivers were young adults with several years of experience driving physical automobiles, while non-drivers were individuals in the same age group who did not have a driver’s license and had never driven an automobile. During exposure to the virtual vehicle, we monitored movement of the head and torso. The independent measures included the incidence and severity of motion sickness. After exposure to the virtual vehicle, the incidence and severity of motion sickness did not differ between Drivers and Non-Drivers. By contrast, postural movement differed between participants who later became motion sick and those who did not. In addition, during exposure to the virtual vehicle, physical driving experience was related to patterns of postural activity that preceded motion sickness. The results are consistent with the postural instability theory of motion sickness, and illuminate relations between the control of physical and virtual vehicles.
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