Mental Representation and Diagram Interpretation

Year: 1986

Author: Lowe, Richard K.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Scientific diagrams compress often rich and complex information into a highly economical form. Their satisfactory interpretation requires the viewer to attend to pertinent aspects of the diagram and to develop a mental representation consistent with the author's intentions. The mental representations of subjects as they performed a diagram interpretation task were explored. The responses of subjects less experienced in the interpretation of scientific diagrams focused on more superficial aspects than those of more experienced subjects and gave less emphasis to relationships involving diagram elements.