Monday, November 7, 2016

An interactive infographic shouldn’t make you yawn

Back on September 15th the Bloomberg web site featured an interactive infographic by Evan Applegate titled American Fright. It listed the top 42 fears from the 2015 Chapman University Survey of American Fears - in four columns and eleven rows. Each fear was represented by an image with a brief caption below it. When you pointed your mouse at an image, the percent of Americans that were Very Afraid or Afraid was shown at the right, beneath a skull icon. Yawn!  

I was not impressed by that infographic. It is harder to use than the ranked list shown in the Chapman blog post titled America’s Top Fears 2015, that lets you look at all the percentages at once and compare them. (The list also provides an alphabetical index). That infographic  incorrectly describes the survey:

“Chapman University asked 1,541 American adults what they fear most, then ranked the answers by the share of respondents who indicated “afraid” or very afraid” for each.”

The Chapman survey questions really were “How afraid are you of...?” not “What do you fear most?” and, there were four possible answers:

1 Not Afraid

2 Slightly Afraid

3 Afraid

4 Very Afraid

Then on October 31st Bloomberg did it again for Halloween with another similar infographic showing all 79 fears from the 2016 Chapman Survey in four columns. This one was created by Peter Jeffrey and titled What Americans Fear Most: Corruption, Reptiles, and Death. Of course that title instead should have been What Do the Most Americans Fear? Yawn again!

How much better and more useful could an interactive infographic from a survey be? On September 23rd I blogged about how Public speaking is not the most common fear for adults in British Columbia. Look at the infographic in an article published on June 17, 2016 by Insights West and titled Terrorism, Heights, and Snakes are Top Fears in British Columbia. It lets you build a stacked bar chart showing any of the fear at up to five different levels, and to choose either the whole sample or sub-samples based on geography or ethnicity.

An image of a yawning Japanese macaque came from Bruce1ee at Wikimedia Commons.    

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