Familiarity Vs Trust: A Comparative Study of Domain Scientists' Trust in Visual Analytics and Conventional Analysis Methods

Aritra Dasgupta, Joon Yong Lee, Ryan Wilson, Robert A. Lafrance, Nick Cramer, Kristin Cook, Samuel Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Combining interactive visualization with automated analytical methods like statistics and data mining facilitates data-driven discovery. These visual analytic methods are beginning to be instantiated within mixed-initiative systems, where humans and machines collaboratively influence evidence-gathering and decision-making. But an open research question is that, when domain experts analyze their data, can they completely trust the outputs and operations on the machine-side? Visualization potentially leads to a transparent analysis process, but do domain experts always trust what they see? To address these questions, we present results from the design and evaluation of a mixed-initiative, visual analytics system for biologists, focusing on analyzing the relationships between familiarity of an analysis medium and domain experts' trust. We propose a trust-Augmented design of the visual analytics system, that explicitly takes into account domain-specific tasks, conventions, and preferences. For evaluating the system, we present the results of a controlled user study with 34 biologists where we compare the variation of the level of trust across conventional and visual analytic mediums and explore the influence of familiarity and task complexity on trust. We find that despite being unfamiliar with a visual analytic medium, scientists seem to have an average level of trust that is comparable with the same in conventional analysis medium. In fact, for complex sense-making tasks, we find that the visual analytic system is able to inspire greater trust than other mediums. We summarize the implications of our findings with directions for future research on trustworthiness of visual analytic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • biological data analysis
  • familiarity
  • transparency
  • trust
  • uncertainty


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