What Do You Remember? An Analysis of Information Retention and Recall Through Data Visualization Use in Infographics
Agricultural literacy has rapidly declined as consumers no longer work directly in agricultural occupations. Because of the shift in profession, consumers are unaware of fundamental agricultural practices and are questioning the integrity of the industry. Misinformation is a growing concern, especially within the agricultural industry. As quickly as misinformation can spread, agricultural communicators need to be able to counteract misinformation at the same rate or faster. Fortunately, visual communication has been shown to effectively communicate information with consumers in a simplified manner. One way agricultural communicators can counteract misinformation is by using infographics. This type of communication combines visual and textual elements to present information to consumers clearly and concisely. In addition to infographics, data visualization can further help disseminate information by breaking down complex data in a simplified manner. However, there is little research on how data visualization displays can aid information retention and recall when communicating about agriculture. The theoretical framework guiding this study is the Limited Capacity Model for Motivated Mediated Message Processing (LC4MP). This theory describes that individuals have limited capacity for message processing, and when cognitive resources to process a message are too high, the individual will not retain the information. The LC4MP further describes three subprocesses an individual takes when retaining information: encoding, storing, and retrieval. This theory helps explain why message elements are encoded and stored and how individuals can retrieve the information when asked free and cued recall questions. To identify how participants perceived the data visualization displays and how the displays aided in information retention and recall, we implemented a study to analyze the visual attention to areas of interest on the infographic. We selected an agriculturally based infographic and manipulated the data to be shown as 1) charts, 2) illustrations, and 3) pictographs. Findings show when illustrations and pictographs are used in an infographic, viewers can more effectively recall the design elements and information presented. However, the lack of power within the study inhibits base conclusions. Future research should be conducted to establish the necessary main effects and power for similar studies.