Numbers Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures : Individual Differences in Understanding Graphical and Numerical Representations of Health-Related Information

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2012
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Wegwarth, Odette
Skopec, David
Müller, Ann-Sophie
Broschinski, Sebastian
Politi, Mary C.
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Health Psychology. 2012, 31(3), pp. 286-296. ISSN 0278-6133. eISSN 1930-7810. Available under: doi: 10.1037/a0024850
Zusammenfassung

Objective
Informed medical decision making requires comprehending statistical information. We aimed to improve the understanding of conveying health-related statistical information with graphical representations compared with numerical representations. First, we investigated whether the iconicity of representations (i.e., their abstractness vs. concreteness) affected comprehension and recall of statistical information. Second, we investigated whether graph literacy helps to identify individuals who comprehend graphical representations better than numerical representations.

Method
Participants (N = 275) were randomly assigned to receive different representations of health-related statistical information, ranging from very low iconicity (numbers) to very high iconicity (icon arrays including photographs). Comprehension and recall of the information were assessed. Additionally, participants rated the accessibility of the information and the attractiveness of the representation. Graph literacy was assessed by means of a recently developed scale.

Results
The only difference between representations that affected comprehension and recall was the difference between graphics and numbers; the actual level of iconicity of graphics did not matter. Individuals with high graph literacy had better comprehension and recall when presented with graphics instead of numbers, and they rated graphical information as more accessible than numerical information, whereas the reverse was true for individuals with low graph literacy, F(4, 185) = 2.60, p = .04, ηp² = .05, and F(4, 245) = 2.71, p = .03, ηp2 = .04, respectively. Both groups judged graphical representations as more attractive than numerical representations.

Conclusion
An assessment of graph literacy distinguished individuals who are best informed with graphical representations of statistical information from those who are better informed with numerical representations.

Zusammenfassung in einer weiteren Sprache
Fachgebiet (DDC)
150 Psychologie
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graph literacy, health literacy, icon arrays, medical decision making, risk communication
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ISO 690GAISSMAIER, Wolfgang, Odette WEGWARTH, David SKOPEC, Ann-Sophie MÜLLER, Sebastian BROSCHINSKI, Mary C. POLITI, 2012. Numbers Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures : Individual Differences in Understanding Graphical and Numerical Representations of Health-Related Information. In: Health Psychology. 2012, 31(3), pp. 286-296. ISSN 0278-6133. eISSN 1930-7810. Available under: doi: 10.1037/a0024850
BibTex
@article{Gaissmaier2012-05Numbe-27934,
  year={2012},
  doi={10.1037/a0024850},
  title={Numbers Can Be Worth a Thousand Pictures : Individual Differences in Understanding Graphical and Numerical Representations of Health-Related Information},
  number={3},
  volume={31},
  issn={0278-6133},
  journal={Health Psychology},
  pages={286--296},
  author={Gaissmaier, Wolfgang and Wegwarth, Odette and Skopec, David and Müller, Ann-Sophie and Broschinski, Sebastian and Politi, Mary C.}
}
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