2006 Proceedings of the American Statistical Association, Statistical Graphics Section (forthcoming)
Recent advances in our understanding of visual perception have shown it to be a far more complex and counterintuitive process than previously believed. Several important consequences follow from this. First, the design of an effective statistical graphics system is unlikely to succeed based on intuition alone; instead, it must rely on a more sophisticated, systematic approach. The basic elements of such an approach are outlined here, along with several design principles. An overview is then given of recent advances in our understanding of visual perception, including rapid perception, visual attention, and scene perception. It then is argued that the mechanisms involved can be successfully harnessed to allow data to be displayed more effectively than at present. Several directions of development are discussed, including effective use of visual attention, the display of dynamic information, and the effective use of nonattentional and nonconscious perceptual systems
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