A Critical Reflection on Visualization Research: Where Do Decision Making Tasks Hide?

Evanthia Dimara, John Stasko

View presentation: 2021-10-27T15:30:00Z GMT-0600 Change your timezone on the schedule page
Exemplar figure, described by caption below
Well-established taxonomies ranging from low to high-level visualization tasks. The red annotations illustrate our main research question: Has decision making been studied explicitly within visualization research, and, if not, should it?
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It has been widely suggested that a key goal of visualization systems is to assist decision making, but is this true? We conduct a critical investigation on whether the activity of decision making is indeed central to the visualization domain. By approaching decision making as a user task, we explore the degree to which decision tasks are evident in visualization research and user studies. Our analysis suggests that decision tasks are not commonly found in current visualization task taxonomies and that the visualization field has yet to leverage guidance from decision theory domains on how to study such tasks. We further found that the majority of visualizations addressing decision making were not evaluated based on their ability to assist decision tasks. Finally, to help expand the impact of visual analytics in organizational as well as casual decision making activities, we initiate a research agenda on how decision making assistance could be elevated throughout visualization research.