[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Three experiments examined how bottom-up and top-down processes interact when people view and make inferences from complex visual displays (weather maps). Bottom-up effects of display design were investigated by manipulating the relative visual salience of task-relevant and task-irrelevant information across different maps. Top-down effects of domain knowledge were investigated by examining performance and eye fixations before and after participants learned relevant meteorological principles. Map design and knowledge interacted such that salience had no effect on performance before participants learned the meteorological principles; however, after learning, participants were more accurate if they viewed maps that made task-relevant information more visually salient. Effects of display design on task performance were somewhat dissociated from effects of display design on eye fixations. The results support a model in which eye fixations are directed primarily by top-down factors (task and domain knowledge). They suggest that good display design facilitates performance not just by guiding where viewers look in a complex display but also by facilitating processing of the visual features that represent task-relevant information at a given display location. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved).
Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory and Cognition 01/2010; 36(1):37-53. · 2.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In two experiments, participants made inferences from weather maps, before and after they received instruction about relevant meteorological principles. Different versions of the maps showed either task-relevant information alone, or both task-relevant and task-irrelevant information. Participants improved on the inference task after instruction, indicating that they could apply newly acquired declarative knowledge to make inferences from graphics. In Experiment 1, participants spent more time viewing task-relevant information and less time viewing task-irrelevant information after instruction, and in Experiment 2, the presence of task-irrelevant information impaired performance. These results show that domain knowledge can affect information selection and encoding from complex graphics as well as processes of interpreting and making inferences from the encoded information. They also provide validation of one principle for the design of effective graphical displays, namely that graphics should not display more information than is required for the task at hand.
Learning and Instruction 01/2010; 20(2):155-166. · 3.73 Impact Factor