Affective Learning Objectives for Communicative Visualizations
Elsie Lee-Robbins and Eytan Adar

When designing communicative visualizations, we often focus on goals that seek to convey patterns, relations, or comparisons (cognitive learning objectives). We pay less attention to affective intents--those that seek to influence or leverage the audience's opinions, attitudes, or values in some way. Affective objectives may range in outcomes from making the viewer care about the subject, strengthening a stance on an opinion, or leading them to take further action. Because such goals are often considered a violation of perceived 'neutrality' or are `political,' designers may resist or be unable to describe these intents, let alone formalize them as learning objectives. While there are notable exceptions--such as advocacy visualizations or persuasive cartography--we find that visualization designers rarely acknowledge or formalize affective objectives. Through interviews with visualization designers, we expand on prior work on using learning objectives as a framework for describing and assessing communicative intent. Specifically, we extend and revise the framework to include a set of affective learning objectives. This structured taxonomy can help designers identify and declare their goals and compare and assess designs in a more principled way. Additionally, the taxonomy can enable external critique and analysis of visualizations. We illustrate the use of the taxonomy with a critical analysis of an affective visualization.

Pre-print: PDF, (557Kb), to appear, Vis'22.