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ERIC Number: EJ833220
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 32
ISSN: ISSN-1076-898X
A Perceptual Process Approach to Selecting Color Scales for Complex Visualizations
Breslow, Leonard A.; Trafton, J. Gregory; Ratwani, Raj M.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, v15 n1 p25-34 Mar 2009
Previous research has shown that multicolored scales are superior to ordered brightness scales for supporting identification tasks on complex visualizations (categorization, absolute numeric value judgments, etc.), whereas ordered brightness scales are superior for relative comparison tasks (greater/less). We examined the processes by which such tasks are performed. By studying eye movements and by comparing performance on scales of different sizes, we argued that (a) people perform identification tasks by conducting a serial visual search of the legend, whose speed is sensitive to the number of scale colors and the discriminability of the colors; and (b) people perform relative comparison tasks using different processes for multicolored versus brightness scales. With multicolored scales, they perform a parallel search of the legend, whose speed is relatively insensitive to the size of the scale, whereas with brightness scales, people usually directly compare the target colors in the visualization, while making little reference to the legend. Performance of comparisons was relatively robust against increases in scale size, whereas performance of identifications deteriorated markedly, especially with brightness scales, once scale sizes reached 10 colors or more. (Contains 4 tables and 7 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia