How graphs can mislead

L. van Weelden, M.A.A. van Amelsvoort, Michael Bernhofer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The present study investigates the role of graph type (i.e., line or bar) in a context in which graphs are manipulated to mislead the viewer. Participants had to make a series of financial decisions based on two graphs that depicted the financial data of two companies. The two graphs were either presented accurately (i.e., one graph represented the more profitable option) or inaccurately (one of the two graphs’ y-axis was distorted, which therefore seemed the more profitable option, but actually was unprofitable). Participants chose the incorrect (i.e., unprofitable) option more often in the inaccurate condition and were thus deceived. If they did manage to look past the distortion and chose the correct option, it took them more time to do so. Our results did not show any differences between the deceiving characteristics of bar and line graphs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuilding bridges: Improving our understanding of learning from text and graphics by making the connection
EditorsHuib Tabbers, Bjorn de Koning, Marije van Amelsvoort, Jan van der Meij, Neil Jacobson, Erica de Vries
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventEARLI SIG2 meeting 2014 - Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Sept 201427 Oct 2014


ConferenceEARLI SIG2 meeting 2014


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