U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Towards Understanding Familiarity Related Cognitive Biases in Visualization Design and Usage

Publish Date: 
Monday, September 25, 2017
Experts, cutting across domains like biology, climate science, cyber, energy, etc., frequently use visualizations as the principal medium for making analytical judgments or for presenting the results of their analysis. However, scientists are often skeptical about adopting new visualization methods over familiar ones, although the latter might be perceptually sub-optimal. This is due to the use of the familiarity heuristic, where the perceived cognitive ease in processing familiar representations of information leads scientists to undermine the effect of visualization best practices. Recent studies have shown that this often results in a discrepancy between scientists’ perceived and actual performance quality. It has also been shown that in some cases, participatory design sessions and qualitative and quantitative user studies are able to mitigate the effects of such bias. In this paper, we discuss the potential causes and effects of familiarity related biases with examples from recent studies and reflect on the related research questions.
Dasgupta A. 2017. "Towards Understanding Familiarity Related Cognitive Biases in Visualization Design and Usage." In Decisive Workshop, IEEEVIS.
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