Showing People behind Data: Does Anthropomorphizing Visualizations Elicit More Empathy for Human Rights Data?

Posted: 3 Feb 2017

See all articles by Jeremy Boy

Jeremy Boy

United Nations - UN Global Pulse

Anshul Vikram Pandey

New York University (NYU)

John Emerson

New York University (NYU) - Center for Human Rights and Global Justice

Margaret L. Satterthwaite

New York University School of Law

Oded Nov

New York University

Enrico Bertini

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

Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

We investigate the impact of using anthropomorphized data graphics over standard charts on viewers’ empathy for, and prosocial behavior toward suffering populations, in the context of human rights narratives. We present a series of experiments conducted on Amazon Mechanical Turk, in which we compare various forms of anthropomorphized data graphics — ranging from a single human figure that ‘fills up’ to show proportional data, to separated groups of individual human beings — with a standard chart baseline. Each experiment uses two carefully crafted human rights data-driven stories to present the graphics. Contrary to our expectations, we consistently find that anthropomorphized data graphics and standard charts have very similar effects on empathy and prosocial behavior.

Suggested Citation

Boy, Jeremy and Pandey, Anshul Vikram and Emerson, John and Satterthwaite, Margaret L. and Nov, Oded and Bertini, Enrico, Showing People behind Data: Does Anthropomorphizing Visualizations Elicit More Empathy for Human Rights Data? (January 2017). CHI 2017, Forthcoming, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2908152

Jeremy Boy

United Nations - UN Global Pulse ( email )

NY
United States

Anshul Vikram Pandey

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
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New York, NY 10003-711
United States

John Emerson

New York University (NYU) - Center for Human Rights and Global Justice ( email )

245 Sullivan St
New York, NY 10012
United States

HOME PAGE: http://chrgj.org

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 ( 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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