Colour-enhanced star plot glyphs: Can salient shape characteristics be overcome?

Alexander Klippel*, Frank Hardisty, Rui Li, Chris Weaver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports two experiments addressing the question of how the shape characteristics of star plot glyphs influence classification tasks and whether additional graphic features such as colour can be used to counterbalance the effects of shape characteristics. In a previous study we found that salient shapes of star plot glyphs, such as "has one spike," influence the classification of the data represented by the glyphs. The shape differences in star plot glyphs are induced by assigning variables to rays in different ways. The first two experiments showed shape influences; we then conducted two follow-up studies to shed more light on the influence of shape. First, to address the question of how the classification of star plot glyphs would be affected if they were stripped of their meaning, participants were asked to group star plot glyphs as shapes. The second study colour-coded the rays of star plot glyphs to focus attention on differences in salient shapes; for example, the general shape characteristic "has one spike" cannot be applied so easily if each spike is a different colour. The results show that colour-enhancing star plot glyphs improves processing speed and reduces the influence of salient shape characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Classification
  • Perceptual salience
  • Star plot glyphs


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