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13 - 18 OCTOBER 2013, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USA

Common Angle Plots as Perception-True Visualizations of Categorical Associations

Authors: 
Heike Hofmann, Marie Vendettuoli
Abstract: 

Visualizations are great tools of communicationsミthey summarize findings and quickly convey main messages to our audience. As designers of charts we have to make sure that information is shown with a minimum of distortion. We have to also consider illusions and other perceptual limitations of our audience. In this paper we discuss the effect and strength of the line width illusion, a Mャ uller-Lyer type illusion, on designs related to displaying associations between categorical variables. Parallel sets and hammock plots are both affected by line width illusions. We introduce the common-angle plot as an alternative method for displaying categorical data in a manner that minimizes the effect from perceptual illusions. Results from user studies both highlight the need for addressing line-width illusions in displays and provide evidence that common angle charts successfully resolve this issue.