Foundations of Science

, Volume 14, Issue 1–2, pp 97–110 | Cite as

On the Persuasiveness of Visual Arguments in Mathematics

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Belief Conviction Experimental methods Persuasion Visual arguments 

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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

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