ERIC Number: ED222897
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Visual Complexity and the Function of Graphics in "Scientific American" and "Science 81."
Research in visual communication suggests that relatively complex graphics stimulate viewer interest, while relatively simple graphics facilitate learning. A study was conducted to determine whether the graphics in two science publications ("Scientific American" and "Sciences 81") would be tailored to the ways in which their audiences use information. Presumably, "Scientific American" is geared toward a more instrumental-use audience of working scientists and science educators, while "Science 81" is geared toward a more consummatory-use audience of science "hobbyists." All graphics accompanying an article or department in the five most recent issues of each journal were coded according to three variables. Two variables, visual type and use of color, were used as indicators of graphic complexity. Another variable, perceived function, was used as an indicator of instrumental versus consummatory use of information. Results indicated that the streamlined graphics used in "Scientific American" (primarily black and white or one-color diagrams and graphs) helped to offset the complexity of the written material. In this way, they helped the instrumental-use reader to understand basic relationships between concepts. The visually "exciting" graphics used in "Science 81" (primarily full-color photographs) helped to perceptually motivate the consummatory-use readers--to capture their attention and stimulate interest in the accompanying written material. (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Science 81; Scientific American
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (65th, Athens, OH, July 25-28, 1982).