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How do people perceive graphical risk communication? The role of subjective numeracy

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This study aims to evaluate directly how a graphical risk ladder is perceived and how this perception is related to people's subjective numeracy. Gaze durations and frequencies were used to examine visual attention. Participants (N = 47) appeared to focus on the target risk information, whereas referential information was less attended. Subjective numeracy was negatively correlated with total watching time and the absolute number of gaze events. Results suggest that participants with low subjective numeracy have more difficulty in comprehending the graph, and that they process the graphical information less efficiently than the participants with high subjective numeracy. In addition, the position of referential risks on risk ladders could influence people's risk perception. Based on these findings, we provide some implications for the design of risk communication graphs and for the use of graphs in informing persons with low subjective numeracy about risks.

Keywords: Paling perspective scale; eye-tracking; graphical risk communication; subjective numeracy; visual attention

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: ETH Zurich, Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), Consumer Behavior, Universitaetstrasse 22, Zurich 8092, Switzerland

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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