(short paper) Towards Understanding Enjoyment and Flow in Information Visualization

19 May 2015

Bahador Saket, Carlos Scheidegger, and Stephen G. Kobourov. Eurovis 2015.

Traditionally, evaluation studies in information visualization have measured effectiveness by assessing performance time and accuracy. More recently, there has been a concerted effort to understand aspects beyond time and errors. In this paper we study enjoyment. While arguably not the primary goal of visualization, some studies suggest, through affective priming, that positive emotions can impact performance and memorability in infovis. Different models of enjoyment have been proposed in other fields; yet there is no standard way to relate the different ways psychologists think about enjoyment to the ways we evaluate information visualization techniques. In this paper we attempt to relate the flow model of Csikszentmihalyi to Munzner’s nested model of visualization evaluation. Even though previous papers tackled individual elements of flow, we argue in this paper that in order to move beyond pure observational studies (and, critically, produce generalizable results), we ought to understand what specifically makes a visualization enjoyable, and what level of the design process these elements affect.

Paper in PDF format.