Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spotted: A new technique for comparing averages in visualizations

Comparing averages in time series data

Michael Correll, Danielle Albers, Steven Franconeri, Michael Gleicher

Visualizations often seek to aid viewers in assessing the big picture in the data, that is, to make judgments about aggregate properties of the data. In this paper, we present an empirical study of a representative aggregate judgment task: finding regions of maximum average in a series. We show how a theory of perceptual averaging suggests a visual design other than the typically-used line graph. We describe an experiment that assesses participants' ability to estimate averages and make judgments based on these averages. The experiment confirms that this color encoding significantly outperforms the standard practice.