Blinded with Science or Informed by Charts?

Experimental Material

This page contains experimental material for the VIS 2017 paper Blinded with Science or Informed by Charts? A Replication Study.

The paper is a reappraisal of Tal and Wansink’s 2014 study Blinded with Science: Trivial graphs and formulas increase ad persuasiveness and belief in product efficacy, where seemingly trivial charts were shown to increase belief in drug efficacy, presumably because charts are associated with science. Through a series of four replications conducted on two crowdsourcing platforms, we investigate an alternative explanation, namely, that the charts allowed participants to better assess the drug’s efficacy. Considered together, our experiments suggest that the chart seems to have indeed promoted understanding, although the effect is likely very small. Meanwhile, we were unable to replicate the original study’s findings, as text with chart appeared to be no more persuasive – and sometimes less persuasive – than text alone. This suggests that the effect may not be as robust as claimed and may need specific conditions to be reproduced. Regardless, within our experimental settings and considering our study as a whole (N = 623), the chart’s contribution to understanding was clearly larger than its contribution to persuasion.

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Experiment Stimuli

You can go through all of our experiments by clicking on the links below.

Data and analysis scripts

Experiment software

The experiment software was coded in HTML, PHP and Javascript. It is available on github in the demo version linked to above, that is, all manipulation checks are deactivated.