Naïve Realism: Folk Fallacies in the Design and Use of Visual Displays

Topics in Cognitive Science 3 (3):579-608 (2011)
Abstract
Often implicit in visual display design and development is a gold standard of photorealism. By approximating direct perception, photorealism appeals to users and designers by being both attractive and apparently effortless. The vexing result from numerous performance evaluations, though, is that increasing realism often impairs performance. Smallman and St. John (2005) labeled misplaced faith in realistic information display Naïve Realism and theorized it resulted from a triplet of folk fallacies about perception. Here, we illustrate issues associated with the wider trend towards realism by focusing on a specific current trend for high-fidelity perspective view (3D) geospatial displays. In two experiments, we validated Naïve Realism for different terrain understanding tasks, explored whether certain individuals are particularly prone to Naïve Realism, and determined the ability of task feedback to mitigate Naïve Realism. Performance was measured for laying and judging a concealed route across realistic terrain shown in different display formats. Task feedback was either implicit, in Experiment 1, or explicit in Experiment 2. Prospective and retrospective intuitions about the best display formats for the tasks were recorded and then related to task performance and participant spatial ability. Participants generally intuited they would perform tasks better with more realism than they actually required. For example, counter to intuitions, lowering fidelity of the terrain display revealed the gross scene layout needed to lay a well-concealed route. Individuals of high spatial ability calibrated their intuitions with only implicit task feedback, whereas those of low spatial ability required salient, explicit feedback to calibrate their intuitions about display realism. Results are discussed in the wider context of applying perceptual science to display design, and combating folk fallacies
Keywords Spatial fidelity  Visual displays  Realism  Folk fallacies  Metacognition  Visual perception  Intuition
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J. P. Frisby (1979). Seeing. Oxford University Press.
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