Psychological Perspectives on Diagrams and their Users

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Abstract

How is using diagrams related to things that happen inside our heads? The study of diagrammatic reasoning often focuses on computational models of diagram use rather than on studies of human performance. This chapter presents a survey of the empirical and theoretical research that has investigated these processes. It considers the origins, interpretation and manipulation of diagrams, treating diagrams as a notational system that can be used and studied in an experimental context. This is a review of the experimental psychology literature rather than a complete theoretical framework, and is particularly intended as an introduction to the field for those who are commencing research projects into diagrammatic reasoning, having come from a discipline other than cognitive psychology.