[visionlist] Variability is vision versus audition in data display

John Neuhoff JNEUHOFF at wooster.edu
Mon Mar 11 00:20:36 -04 2019

It seems almost a truism that there is greater variability among individuals in the perception of sonified versus visualized data sets. Yet, finding empirical studies to support this idea appears to be a challenge. For example, when representing data visually, larger data values are often represented with increasing vertical extent (e.g., taller bars in a bar graph).  In most cases observers have almost unanimous agreement on which bar is higher. In audition the same data can be represented in the domain of musical pitch.  High pitch can be used to represent large data values and low pitch can be used to represent small data values. However, there is greater disagreement among listeners in the case of sonification and the data value specified by pitch. In fact, listeners without musical training often are confused by the terms "high" and "low" as they pertain to musical pitch (Neuhoff, Knight, & Wayand, 2002).

I would be grateful to learn of other examples of greater perceptual variability in the auditon versus vision, particulary as it pertains to data representation.


-John Neuhoff

John G. Neuhoff
Department of Psychology
The College of Wooster
Chair, Auditory Perception & Cognition Society
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