Evaluating the effect of visually represented geodata uncertainty on decision-making: systematic review, lessons learned, and recommendations

Christoph Kinkeldey, Alan M. MacEachren, Maria Riveiro, Jochen Schiewe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


For many years, uncertainty visualization has been a topic of research in several disparate fields, particularly in geographical visualization (geovisualization), information visualization, and scientific visualization. Multiple techniques have been proposed and implemented to visually depict uncertainty, but their evaluation has received less attention by the research community. In order to understand how uncertainty visualization influences reasoning and decision-making using spatial information in visual displays, this paper presents a comprehensive review of uncertainty visualization assessments from geovisualization and related fields. We systematically analyze characteristics of the studies under review, i.e., number of participants, tasks, evaluation metrics, etc. An extensive summary of findings with respect to the effects measured or the impact of different visualization techniques helps to identify commonalities and differences in the outcome. Based on this summary, we derive “lessons learned” and provide recommendations for carrying out evaluation of uncertainty visualizations. As a basis for systematic evaluation, we present a categorization of research foci related to evaluating the effects of uncertainty visualization on decision-making. By assigning the studies to categories, we identify gaps in the literature and suggest key research questions for the future. This paper is the second of two reviews on uncertainty visualization. It follows the first that covers the communication of uncertainty, to investigate the effects of uncertainty visualization on reasoning and decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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