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VFF: Deceptive Graphs: Quantifying the Truncation Effect in Bar Graphs & Exploring Interventions

Visualization Friday Forum: Fridays at noon, LSRC D106
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Friday, March 08, 2019
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12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Brenda Yang · Psych & Neuroscience
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Visualization Friday Forum

We approach the question of potentially deceptive visualizations using the tools of experimental psychology. In a series of experiments, we quantify the effects of truncating the y-axis of bar graphs, which remains a common practice, despite being frowned upon by data visualization experts. We focus on relative judgments of quantity ("How different are A and B?"), rather than objective measures ("What is the value of X?"). We'll discuss our experimental design, results to date (spoiler: truncation matters!), and variations on the study, including studies recruiting PhD students in the quantitative fields and the humanities. I'll discuss our working definition of a "misleading graph," and how this might work might fit into existing work on misinformation. I'd love to solicit discussion and feedback on this paradigm from a non-psychological perspective.

Contact: Angela Zoss