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How Deceptive are Deceptive Visualizations?: An Empirical Analysis of Common Distortion Techniques

Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2015, Forthcoming

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 15-03

11 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2015  

Anshul Vikram Pandey

New York University (NYU)

Katharina Rall

New York University School of Law

Margaret L. Satterthwaite

New York University School of Law

Oded Nov

New York University (NYU) - NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering

Enrico Bertini

New York University (NYU) - NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering

Date Written: February 18, 2015

Abstract

In this paper, we present an empirical analysis of deceptive visualizations. We start with an in-depth analysis of what deception means in the context of data visualization, and categorize deceptive visualizations based on the type of deception they lead to. We identify popular distortion techniques and the type of visualizations those distortions can be applied to, and formalize why deception occurs with those distortions. We create four deceptive visualizations using the selected distortion techniques, and run a crowdsourced user study to identify the deceptiveness of those visualizations. We then present the findings of our study and show how deceptive each of these visual distortion techniques are, and for what kind of questions the misinterpretation occurs. We also analyze individual differences among participants and present the effect of some of those variables on participants’ responses. This paper presents a first step in empirically studying deceptive visualizations, and will pave the way for more research in this direction.

Suggested Citation

Pandey, Anshul Vikram and Rall, Katharina and Satterthwaite, Margaret L. and Nov, Oded and Bertini, Enrico, How Deceptive are Deceptive Visualizations?: An Empirical Analysis of Common Distortion Techniques (February 18, 2015). Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2015, Forthcoming; NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 15-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2566968

Anshul Vikram Pandey

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Katharina Rall

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Margaret L. Satterthwaite (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Oded Nov

New York University (NYU) - NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering ( email )

Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

Enrico Bertini

New York University (NYU) - NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering ( email )

Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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