Why is the driver rarely motion sick? The role of controllability in motion sickness

Arnon Rolnick, R. E. Lubow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The central hypothesis of the work is that the dimension of control-no control plays an important role in motion sickness. Although it is generally agreed that having control over a moving vehicle greatly reduces the likelihood of motion sickness, few studies have addressed this issue directly, and the theoretical explanation for this phenomenon is not completely clear. In the study, we equated groups differing in controllability for head movement, vision, activity, and predictability, which have often been suggested in the literature as explanations for the driver's immunity to motion sickness. Twenty-two pairs of yoked subjects were exposed to nauseogenic rotation. One subject of each pair had control over the rotation and head movements, while the other was exposed passively to the same motion stimulus. Subjects who had control reported significantly fewer motion sickness symptoms and less of a decrement in their well-being, as compared to the yoked subject without control. The results are discussed in relation to Reason's sensory rearrangement theory and the concept of feedforward mechanisms in motion perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-879
Number of pages13
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1991


  • Controllability
  • Motion sickness
  • Stress (psychological)


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