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ERIC Number: EJ871443
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 68
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Thinking about the Weather: How Display Salience and Knowledge Affect Performance in a Graphic Inference Task
Hegarty, Mary; Canham, Matt S.; Fabrikant, Sara I.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v36 n1 p37-53 Jan 2010
Three experiments examined how bottom-up and top-down processes interact when people view and make inferences from complex visual displays (weather maps). Bottom-up effects of display design were investigated by manipulating the relative visual salience of task-relevant and task-irrelevant information across different maps. Top-down effects of domain knowledge were investigated by examining performance and eye fixations before and after participants learned relevant meteorological principles. Map design and knowledge interacted such that salience had no effect on performance before participants learned the meteorological principles; however, after learning, participants were more accurate if they viewed maps that made task-relevant information more visually salient. Effects of display design on task performance were somewhat dissociated from effects of display design on eye fixations. The results support a model in which eye fixations are directed primarily by top-down factors (task and domain knowledge). They suggest that good display design facilitates performance not just by guiding where viewers look in a complex display but also by facilitating processing of the visual features that represent task-relevant information at a given display location. (Contains 5 footnotes, 3 tables and 9 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; North America