Testing the susceptibility of users to deceptive data visualizations when paired with explanatory text

Shaun O'Brien, Claire Lauer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper we present the results of an empirical study that analyzed how people understand the data presented to them in deceptive data visualizations when those visualizations are paired with non-deceptive text. This study was administered as an online user survey and was designed to test the extent to which deceptive data visualizations can fool users, even when they are accompanied by a paragraph of accurate text. The study consisted of a basic demographic questionnaire, chart familiarity assessment, and data visualization survey. A total of 256 participants completed the survey and were evenly distributed between a control (non-deceptive) survey and a test (deceptive) survey in which participants were asked to observe a paragraph of text and a data visualization. Participants then answered a question relevant to the observed information to measure how they perceived the information. The results of the study confirmed that deceptive techniques in data visualizations caused participants to misinterpret the information in the deceptive data visualizations even when they were accompanied by accurate explanatory text. Furthermore, certain demographics and comfort levels with chart types were more susceptible to certain types of deceptive techniques. These results highlight the importance of education and awareness in the area of data visualizations to ensure deceptive practices are not utilized on the part of developers and to avoid misinformation on the part of users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSIGDOC 2018 - 36th ACM International Conference on the Design of Communication
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Print)9781450359351
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 3 2018
Event36th ACM International Conference on the Design of Communication, SIGDOC 2018 - Milwaukee, United States
Duration: Aug 3 2018Aug 5 2018

Other

Other36th ACM International Conference on the Design of Communication, SIGDOC 2018
CountryUnited States
CityMilwaukee
Period8/3/188/5/18

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Information Systems

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  • Cite this

    O'Brien, S., & Lauer, C. (2018). Testing the susceptibility of users to deceptive data visualizations when paired with explanatory text. In SIGDOC 2018 - 36th ACM International Conference on the Design of Communication [a7] Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1145/3233756.3233961