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Dec 19, 2022 Article
Debunking strategies for misleading bar charts

by Winnifred Wijnker, Ionica Smeets, Peter Burger and Sanne Willems

Graphs are useful to communicate concisely about complex issues. Although they facilitate intuitive reading of data, trends, and predictions, hasty readers may still come to the wrong conclusions, especially if graphs are misleading due to violated design conventions. To provide evidence about how to prevent misinformation from spreading by misleading graphs, this two-survey experimental study investigates the effectiveness of four correction methods as debunking strategies to correct bar charts with manipulated vertical axes. All four methods showed positive effects. The most effective one is aimed at correcting the initial image by presenting an accurate alternative graph. A reduced effect remained visible after one week.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022