Which properties in 3D visualizations cause comprehension difficulties?

Kyong Eun Oh, Daniel Halpern, James Chiang, Marilyn Tremaine, Karen Bemis, Deborah Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This paper presents preliminary results from a research project, which investigates how people comprehend the internal structure of 3D visualizations and what specific properties of such visualizations make it more difficult for users to understand the information being presented. Participants were asked to draw the face of the cut plane of various 3D visualizations while verbalizing their thoughts. Data was collected by videotaping participants' problem solving process. The verbal protocols and participants' gestures and drawings were analyzed using a grounded theory approach to generate hypotheses related to comprehension difficulties. Our initial analysis of the results found three properties that made problem solving more difficult for participants. These were, cutting planes at oblique angles to the planes of presentation, non-planar properties of the features contained in the 3D figures including curved layers and mixed combination of curved and flat layers. This research has direct implications in Information Science in that it suggests design features to avoid, if possible, in 3D information visualizations. Copyright notice continues right here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • 3D visualizations
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Information visualization
  • Visualization literacy


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