Mona successfully defended her MSc project

Mona is the first VIXI student to complete a MSc project. She successfully completed her project report on Abstract and Metaphoric visualization of emotionally sensitive data.

In her project, Abstract and Metaphoric visualization of emotionally sensitive data, Mona asked whether standard visualizations such as bar charts and scatterplots, especially those representing qualitative, emotionally sensitive issues, fail to build a connection between the data that the visualization represents and the viewer of the visualization. She investigated whether visualizations that rely on metaphors (i.e., that involve existing mental images such as a tree or a person image) with some emotional connotation can foster viewers’ empathy and engagement with the data. She conducted an empirical study to compare the effect of visualization type (metaphoric and abstract) on people’s engagement and empathy when exposed to emotionally sensitive data (data about sexual harassment in academia).

She designed a metaphoric visualization that relies on the metaphor of a flower symbolizing life, beauty, and fragility which might help the viewers relate to the victim and build some emotional connection; and an abstract visualization that relies on purely geometric forms with which people should not have any existing emotional connection.

Results from the study did not highlight any clear difference in engagement and empathy from viewers when exposed to these metaphoric and abstract visualizations.

This project was supervised by Dr. Charles Perin, and Dr. Miguel Nacenta was the departmental member for the examination. We also thank Sean Chester for chairing the defense.

Mona is now a Data Scientist at Scotiabank in Toronto.