Visualizing information increases positive emotions

Our article “Augmenting Communication with Visualization: Effects on Emotional and Cognitive Response” has been published on the IADIS International Journal on WWW/Internet, Vol. 9 (2), pages 109-121, and it is now available online.

In this work, co-authored with Margaret Tan and Martin Eppler, we argue that mapping information visually with diagrams and visual metaphors has a positive effect on the emotional reaction toward the content. That means that people like the content better when it is presented in a visually appealing manner.

Paper abstract: We are witnessing an increased use of conceptual visualizations and information graphics on the Web. Addressing this rising interest in the interactive visual display of information, this study proposes to evaluate the effects of visual mapping on human communication. We acknowledge the emergence of new forms of communication deploying interactive visualization, empowered by ICT tools that augment abilities in creating visualizations. Yet their implications are still largely understudied. Beyond evaluating usability, this study focuses on assessing the new visual digital form of communication, in particular in the context of strategic communication in organizations, by analyzing the relationship between the emotional and cognitive response. We propose a model, building on theories from psychology, in which visualization has a positive effect on the emotional response toward the content, which in turn has a positive impact on the cognitive response. We test the mediation model proposed with an experiment, comparing a textual control condition to two visual representations, and find confirmation of our hypotheses. The study provides a contribution by showing that communication can be shaped and enhanced by using interactive visual mapping tools, which empower users to swiftly craft clear and convincing messages.

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