Journal of Graph Algorithms and Applications
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Special Issue on Selected Papers from the Thirteenth International Symposium on Graph Drawing, GD 2005
Effects of Sociogram Drawing Conventions and Edge Crossings in Social Network Visualization
Vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 397-429, 2007. Regular paper.
Abstract This paper describes a user study examining the effects of different spatial layouts on human sociogram perception. The study compares the relative effectiveness of five sociogram drawing conventions in communicating the underlying network substance, based on task performance and user preference. The impact of edge crossings is also explored by using social network specific tasks. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are employed in the study. It was found that 1) both edge crossings and drawing conventions have significant effects on user preference and performance of finding groups, but neither has much impact on the perception of actor importance. On the other hand, node positioning and angular resolution may be more important in perceiving the importance of actors. In visualizing social networks, it is important to note that techniques that are highly preferred by users do not necessarily lead to optimal task performance. 2) the subjects have a strong preference for placing nodes on the top or in the center to highlight importance, and clustering nodes in the same group and separating clusters to highlight groups. They have tendency to believe that nodes on the top or in the center are more important, and nodes in close proximity belong to the same group. Some preliminary recommendations for sociogram design are also proposed.