Integrating cognition psychological theories and eye movement analysis in individual map symbols design
1Shulei, Z.; 2Yufen, C.; 3Yan, Y.; 5Chunlei, Y.; 5Yibo, D.
Over the last centuries map has become an incredibly ubiquitous tool in our everyday life, whereas map design is not always as available and efficient as we expect. One reason for the gap is the lack of cognitive theories research has lagged behind far away. Another is data analysis biased applying traditional usability assessment methods, such as retrospective self-report, questionnaires and thinking aloud methods, which are failed in unconscious pre-attentive process in a top-down fashion. The other is the poor interactive map interfaces ignoring context research on different user groups, conditions and equipment resulted in inefficient communications in the second down-top attentive phase. There is no doubt that eye movement method as a promising tool has been increasingly and successfully employed in map design area as its irreplaceable ability in qualitative and quantitative data analysis, especially in examining individual difference and context in map uses. However, there has been not enough research either on map visual cognitive process, or on map design empirical work in literatures. As it is a crucial factor of map design, this paper aims at exploring map symbol design methods based on cognition psychological theories and eye movement analysis. Herewith three sections in this paper as follows: In the first part, some underlying theories, data classification methods and other related works (such as the “hole” shape feature research) are introduced. Noton and Stark’s Scanpath theory pointed out the two phases of visual process as pre-attentive detecting and conscious visual cognition control. Kevin Lynch's findings on place legibility from five elements and imageability from mental maps have been developed in recent spatial cognition and communication infrastructures. Bin Jiang’s head/tail breaks is the most efficient comparing others at present. Significantly, time, region and individual difference are taken into account to be both methodological and conceptual basis of this paper. As for map, symbols are often distributed in a heavy-tailed manner vividly, coinciding with geographic spatial distribution, with a minority of recognizable symbols for landmark objects and the vast majority for others. In view of both symbols classification and map context, two eye movement experiments with a Tobii X120 Eye Tracker are conducted. One is a series of dot arrangement patterns eye movement experiment as the supplementary validation of the head/tail breaks classification scheme. Another is to supply the fundamental knowledge and techniques for map symbols design under previous researches. In each task, temporal, spatial and count eye movement data were monitored to support cognition and usability analysis. In detail, primary measures include fixation duration, gaze duration and others are recorded. Additionally, Gaze-plot, Heat-map and AOI Plot for eye movement data are employed in visualization analysis. In the first comparing experiment of dot arrangement patterns, density was different between groups and size was different within a group. Because of the validation of head/tail breaks classification scheme, a hypothesis was being prompted that size and density of map symbols design should follow this rule, too. So, a further experiment was dominated involving map symbols design following head-tail breaks classification scheme in pre-attentive process and different map context affecting cognition control phase. Also interviews on map content memory and target finding show the remarkable distinguishability in cognition process and search strategy between experienced users and inexperienced users. Innovation of this paper is combining eye movement analysis with conventional methods in map symbols design. It may brighten map design and assessment research area in the future. Finally, advantages of it in the reporting two of our studies are discussed comparing with the limits of simple traditional usability testing methods.
cognition; eye movement; individual map symbols design