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Executive Summary

Overview Report

Main Report


  Social Stats


Bibliographic History

Review of Visualization in the Social Sciences: Main Report


In psychology, current visualization techniques include various types of graphics such as contour plots, surface plots, scatterplot matrices and dynamic spinning (Marchak, 1994). These have previously been reviewed for their suitability in the analysis of psychological data by Ho & Behrens (1995). However, like geography, psychology is also distinguished by an interdisciplinary overlap between the sciences and social sciences. Similarly, this overlap has been cogent in the apparent uptake of advanced computer visualization technologies, including both VR and computer animation, as well as more general multimedia tools. These technologies have generally been used within the experimental design stage of the research, and have supplemented existing techniques as opposed to replacing them. For instance, the use VR technology has started to supplement conventional research methods, such as in shape recognition and manipulation experiments which has traditionally used `physical' objects, but now also uses 3D interactive computer graphics (e.g. Ainge, 1996; Duesbury & Oneil, 1996). Another example has been the use of computer based multimedia in the study of `body-image' dissatisfaction between men and women (Gustavson et al. 1993), and the use of computer simulations in the investigation of people's perceptions from varying perspectives (Houston et al. 1995).

Multimedia and animation are also increasingly being used in psychological experiments. For instance, computer images and animation have been used to test theories on perception and cognitive visualization. Stappers & Waller, (1993) tested people's ability to use the free fall of computer animated objects as a scale referent in a 2D display, whilst Mayer & Sims, (1994) used computer generated animation to investigate the dual-coding theory of multimedia learning. Winer et al. (1996) used similar computer animated techniques to investigate the beliefs amongst children and adults concerning the act of seeing. In numerous cases, these visualization techniques has improved upon previous photographic and computational techniques (Benson, 1993).

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