On the persuasiveness of visual arguments in mathematics

Matthew Inglis, Juan Pablo Mejía-Ramos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Two experiments are reported which investigate the factors that influence how persuaded mathematicians are by visual arguments. We demonstrate that if a visual argument is accompanied by a passage of text which describes the image, both research-active mathematicians and successful undergraduate mathematics students perceive it to be significantly more persuasive than if no text is given. We suggest that mathematicians' epistemological concerns about supporting a claim using visual images are less prominent when the image is described in words. Finally we suggest that empirical studies can make a useful contribution to our understanding of mathematical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-110
Number of pages14
JournalFoundations of Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Belief
  • Conviction
  • Experimental methods
  • Persuasion
  • Visual arguments

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