Showing People behind Data: Does Anthropomorphizing Visualizations Elicit More Empathy for Human Rights Data?
CHI 2017, Forthcoming
Posted: 3 Feb 2017
Date Written: January 2017
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.
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