Improving spatial decision making using interactive maps: An empirical study on interface complexity and decision complexity in the North American hazardous waste trade

Kristen Vincent, Robert E. Roth, Sarah A. Moore, Qunying Huang, Nick Lally, Carl M. Sack, Eric Nost, Heather Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Spatial decisions increasingly are made by both professional and citizen stakeholders using interactive maps, yet few empirically-derived guidelines exist for designing interactive maps that support complex reasoning and decision making across problem contexts. We address this gap through an online map study with 122 participants with varying expertise. The study required participants to assume two hypothetical scenarios in the North American hazardous waste trade, review geographic information on environmental justice impacts using a different interactive map for each scenario, and arrive at an optimal decision outcome. This study followed a 2 × 2 factorial design, varying interface complexity (the number of supported interaction operators) and decision complexity (the number of decision criteria) as the independent variables and controlling for participant expertise with the hazardous waste trade and other aspects of cartographic design. Our findings indicate that interface complexity, not decision complexity, influenced decision outcomes, with participants arriving at better decisions using the simpler interface. However, expertise was a moderating effect, with experts and non-experts using different interaction strategies to arrive at their decisions. The research contributes to cartography, geovisualization, spatial decision science, urban planning, and visual analytics as well as to scholarship on environmental justice, the geography of hazardous waste, and participatory mapping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1706-1723
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Volume46
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.

Keywords

  • Spatial decision making
  • cartography
  • decision complexity
  • environmental justice
  • expertise
  • hazardous waste
  • interface complexity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Urban Studies
  • Architecture

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