Magnitude Judgements Are Influenced by the Relative Positions of Data Points Within Axis Limits

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Abstract

When visualising data, chart designers have the freedom to choose the upper and lower limits of numerical axes. Axis limits can determine the physical characteristics of plotted values, such as the physical position of data points in dot plots. In two experiments (total N=300), we demonstrate that axis limits affect viewers' interpretations of the magnitudes of plotted values. Participants did not simply associate values presented at higher vertical positions with greater magnitudes. Instead, participants considered the relative positions of data points within the axis limits. Data points were considered to represent larger values when they were closer to the end of the axis associated with greater values, even when they were presented at the bottom of a chart. This provides further evidence of framing effects in the display of data, and offers insight into the cognitive mechanisms involved in assessing magnitude in data visualisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Data visualization
  • Bars
  • Computer science
  • Strain
  • Sensitivity
  • Encoding
  • Visualization
  • Magnitude
  • Axis Manipulation
  • Cognition
  • Bias
  • Framing Effects

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