Use of 'pop-out' paradigm to test graph comprehension in a three-dimensional scatter plot
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The emerging field of visual analytics applies abstract data visualisations to analyse complex, multivariate data. Data visualisations comprise a full spectrum of pictorial and symbolic elements; thus, juxtaposing theories of visual perception and reading comprehension, graph comprehension can be linked to high-level perceptual organisation of the visual scene. The latter can be quantitatively assessed, eg, by the 'pop-out' paradigm: constant response times with increasing stimulus array size. We assessed detection of an outlier (defined by kinetic depth) in slowly rotating 3-D scatter plots, exploring comprehension of simple information--'an odd one out'. Results indicate that in larger stimulus arrays response times were longer while accuracy decreased, consistent with processes of visual search and not 'pop-out'. In line with previous research, these results suggest that 3-D charts, while visually impressive, are not efficient enough for data analysis and decision-making. Using 'pop-out' paradigm allows probing of high-level processes of graph comprehension with psychophysical methods, making it a viable approach to assessing data visualisation efficiency.