Layout Effects on Sociogram Perception
This paper describes a within-subjects experiment in which we compare the relative effectiveness of five sociogram drawing conventions in communicating underlying network substance, based on user task performance and usability preference, in order to examine effects of different spatial layout formats on human sociogram perception. We also explore the impact of edge crossings, a widely accepted readability aesthetic. Subjective data were gathered based on the methodology of Purchase et al. Objective data were collected through an online system.
We found that both edge crossings and conventions pose significant affects on user preference and task performance of finding groups, but either has little impact on the perception of actor status. On the other hand, the node positioning and angular resolution might be more important in perceiving actor status. In visualizing social networks, it is important to note that the techniques that are highly preferred by users do not necessarily lead to best task performance.
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