Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
There has been quite a bit of research on statistical graphics and visualization, generally focused on new types of graphics, new software to create graphics, interactivity, and usability studies. Our ability to interpret and use statistical graphics hinges on the interface between the graph itself and the brain that perceives and interprets it, and there is substantially less research on the interplay between graph, eye, brain, and mind than is sufficient to understand the nature of these relationships.
The goal of the work presented here is to further explore the interplay between a static graph, the translation of that graph from paper to mental representation (the journey from eye to brain), and the mental processes that operate on that graph once it is transferred into memory (mind). Understanding the perception of statistical graphics should allow researchers to create more effective graphs which produce fewer distortions and viewer errors while reducing the cognitive load necessary to understand the information presented in the graph.
Taken together, these experiments should lay a foundation for exploring the perception of statistical graphics. There has been considerable research into the accuracy of numerical judgments viewers make from graphs, and these studies are useful, but it is more effective to understand how errors in these judgments occur so that the root cause of the error can be addressed directly. Understanding how visual reasoning relates to the ability to make judgments from graphs allows us to tailor graphics to particular target audiences. In addition, understanding the hierarchy of salient features in statistical graphics allows us to clearly communicate the important message from data or statistical models by constructing graphics which are designed specifically for the perceptual system.
Susan Ruth VanderPlas
VanderPlas, Susan Ruth, "Perception in statistical graphics" (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 14438.