The Complex Role of Perceptual Organization in Visual Display Design Theory

Document Type


Publication Date


Find this in a Library

Catalog Record


Two experiments were performed to test and extend the current ‘emergent features’ approach to display design for dynamic failure detection tasks. It was predicted that a display whose emergent features were well-mapped to goal-relevant task invariants would lead to better failure detection performance than either of two alternative displays. Contrary to prediction, Experiment 1 showed no differences in failure detection speed or accuracy across displays. The reason for this may have been that subjects did not discover the mapping between the mathematical properties of the task and the emergent feature, so in Experiment 2 subjects were explicitly instructed about the mapping and were advised on how to use the display geometry to help their performance. A significant difference in failure detection speed emerged, but the display supporting fastest performance was not the one with the well-mapped emergent feature. These results suggest that alternative perceptual organizational factors were at work which overpowered the intended effect. The results also underscore the difficulty of developing a theory of display design, and their impact on current theories is outlined.



Catalog Record