Document Type

MS Project Report


Computer Science and Engineering

Publication Date


Embargo Period



There is ample evidence in the visualization commu- nity that individual differences matter. These prior works high- light various traits and cognitive abilities that can modulate the use of the visualization systems and demonstrate a measurable influence on speed, accuracy, process, and attention. Perhaps the most important implication of this body of work is that we can use individual differences as a mechanism for estimating people’s potential to effectively leverage visual interfaces or to identify those people who may struggle. As visual literacy and data fluency continue to become essential skills for our everyday lives, we must embrace the growing need to understand the factors that divide our society, and identify concrete steps for bridging this gap. This paper presents the current understanding of how individual differences interact with visualization use and draws from recent research in the Visualization, Human-Computer Interaction, and Psychology communities. We focus on the specific designs and tasks for which there is concrete evidence of performance divergence due to individual characteristics. The purpose of this paper is to underscore the need to consider individual differences when designing and evaluating visualization systems and to call attention to this critical future research direction.