Modelling the effect of task and graphical representations on response latencies in a graph-reading task

Peebles, David and Cheng, Peter C-H (2003) Modelling the effect of task and graphical representations on response latencies in a graph-reading task. Human Factors, 45 (1). pp. 28-45. ISSN 0018-7208

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We report an investigation into the processes involved in a common graph-reading task using two types of Cartesian graph. We describe an experiment and eye movement study, the results of which show that optimal scan paths assumed in the task analysis approximate the detailed sequences of saccades made by individuals. The research demonstrates the computational inequivalence of two sets of informationally equivalent graphs and illustrates how the computational advantages of a representation outweigh factors such as user unfamiliarity. We describe two models, using the ACT rational perceptual motor (ACT-R/PM) cognitive architecture, that replicate the pattern of observed response latencies and the complex scan paths revealed by the eye movement study. Finally, we outline three guidelines for designers of visual displays: Designers should (a) consider how different quantities are encoded within any chosen representational format, (b) consider the full range of alternative varieties of a given task, and (c) balance the cost of familiarization with the computational advantages of less familiar representations. Actual or potential applications of this research include informing the design and selection of appropriate visual displays and illustrating the practice and utility of task analysis, eye tracking, and cognitive modeling for understanding interactive tasks with external representations.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Originality: The first computational cognitive model of the strategies of Cartesian graph reading due to the limitations of human working memory capacity. Rigour: Methodology integrates (i) reaction-time/error rate experiment, (ii) eye-movement recording and analysis, (iii) development of an ACT-R/PM cognitive model. Significance: Guidelines for the design of graphical representations were derived from the model. The Human factors and Ergonomics Society gave the paper the Jerome H Ely Award for the best paper published in volume 45 (2003) of the Human factors Journal. Citations:Google Scholar 18
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Depositing User: Peter Cheng
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:18
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2012 11:28
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