Perceiving the Relationship Between Discrete and Continuous Data: A Comparison of Sonified Data Display Formats

Publication Type  Conference Paper
Year of Publication  2007
Authors  McCormick, C. M.; Flowers, J. H.
Conference Name  Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Auditory Display (ICAD2007)
Pagination  293-298
Publisher  Schulich School of Music, McGill University
Conference Location  Montreal, Canada
Editor  Scavone, Gary P.
Key Words  Sonification; perception of covariation; auditory graphs; multivariate data display

This study compared the effectiveness of two auditory display designs for conveying the relationship between discrete and continuous data. Participants judged the relationship between simulated data representing ``sea temperature,'' (a continuous variable) and ``storm occurrence'' (a categorical variable) by rating the strength of covariation between these variables and qualitatively describing the relationship for one of two types of auditory displays. One format integrated the representation of storms and sea temperature into a single pitch-varying ``stream'' by signaling storms occurrence by momentary amplitude and timbre changes. The other format presented the storm occurrence information as atonal percussive events separate from the pitchvarying stream that represented temperature. While both formats led to statistically equivalent proportions of verbal descriptions of the temperature-storm relationships present in the simulated data samples, the integrated display produced higher correlations between ratings of the strength of the temperature-storm relationship and the actual storm-temperature covariation present within each data sample.

URL  Proceedings/2007/McCormickFlowers2007.pdf
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