Simultaneous colour search renders other object properties less noticeable
Ronald van den Berg


We studied the relative importance of several features in visual conjunction search. It appears that colour is the dominant feature in colour-size and colour-orientation conjunction searches. This is the conclusion from two experiments in which we first determined for different features (colour and orientation in the first experiment; colour and size in the second experiment) individual contrasts for which subjects scored 70 percent correct in a single feature search task. Despite matched difficulty, it appeared that in conjunction searches subjects made more size errors (first experiment) and orientation errors (second experiment) than colour errors. These findings suggest that colour dominates over other features in conjunction search.This might have implications for research disciplines such as information visualisation: when multidimensionaldata are visualised by using colour to code one dimension, it might be that information carried by other visual featuresis rendered less noticeable. Incorporating results from experiments on human perception is playing an increasingly important role in visualisation but has appeared to be far from trivial. Often it is not possible to simply apply the results from (typically simple) psychophysics experiments to (typically complex) visualisation environments. In this talk, I will present and discuss the results from the two mentioned experiments. Additionally, I will discuss a series of experiments that we are currenty settings up and with which we aim to answer the question what the consequences of the previous findings are for visualisation design principles.

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