Visualizing Data (07-27-22)

Franconeri, Padilla, Shah, Zacks, and Hullman (in a study published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest) report on their research into how to share data with others. Their recommendations for sending messages via data visualizations include: “Understand how starting axes at zero might not always be the best option because it can mask relevant data patterns or create the illusion of patterns that do not reflect reality. . . . beware that slopes in line graphs can create perceptual distortions; use caution when mapping continuous numbers to different hues because it can exaggerate differences; and choose colors that are friendly to color-blind viewers. . . . Transform legends into labels embedded in the figures and avoid distracting animations or text. Attempt to use visualizations that your audience is familiar with, and respect common associations (e.g., “up” and “darker” mean “more”). . . . When communicating risk to audiences who may have a lower ability to work with numbers and mathematics, rely on absolute instead of relative rates, and convey probabilities (e.g., 3 out of 10) instead of percentages (e.g., 30%).”

“The Science of Visual Data Communication:  What Works.”  2021.  Press release, Association for Psychological Science,