Foundations of Science

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 97–110

On the Persuasiveness of Visual Arguments in Mathematics


DOI: 10.1007/s10699-008-9149-4

Cite this article as:
Inglis, M. & Mejía-Ramos, J.P. Found Sci (2009) 14: 97. doi:10.1007/s10699-008-9149-4


Two experiments are reported which investigate the factors that influence how persuaded mathematicians are by visual arguments. We demonstrate that if a visual argument is accompanied by a passage of text which describes the image, both research-active mathematicians and successful undergraduate mathematics students perceive it to be significantly more persuasive than if no text is given. We suggest that mathematicians’ epistemological concerns about supporting a claim using visual images are less prominent when the image is described in words. Finally we suggest that empirical studies can make a useful contribution to our understanding of mathematical practice.


BeliefConvictionExperimental methodsPersuasionVisual arguments

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematics Education CentreLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.Institute of EducationUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK