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We investigate how to co-opt the perception of causality to aid the analysis of multivariate data. We propose Dynamic Glyphs (DyGs), an animated extension to traditional glyphs. DyGs encode data relations through seemingly physical interactions between glyph parts. We hypothesize that this representation gives rise to impressions of causality, enabling observers to reason intuitively about complex, multivariate dynamics. In a crowdsourced experiment, participants' accuracy with DyGs exceeded or was comparable to non-animated alternatives. Moreover, participants showed a propensity to infer higher-dimensional relations with DyGs. Our findings suggest that visual causality can be an effective 'channel' for communicating complex data relations that are otherwise difficult to think about. We discuss the implications and highlight future research opportunities.
GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0