Influencing Network Graph Perception and Judgment: Effects of Direct Connections, Base Rates, and Visual Layout Proximity on Social Network Analysis


Social network graphs are often used to help inform judgments in a variety of domains, such as public health, law enforcement, and political science. Across two studies, we examined how graph features influenced probabilistic judgments in graph-based social network analysis and identified multiple heuristics that participants used to inform these judgments. Study 1 demonstrated that participants’ judgments were influenced by information about direct connections, base rates, and layout proximity, and participants’ self-reported strategies also reflected use of this information. Study 2 replicated findings from Study 1 and provided additional insight into the hierarchical ordering of these strategies and the decision process underlying judgments from social network graphs.

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