Cognitive ergonomics for data analysis. Experimental study of cognitive limitations in a data-based judgement task

Virpi Kalakoski, Andreas Henelius, Emilia Oikarinen, Antti Ukkonen, Kai Puolamäki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today's ever-increasing amount of data places new demands on cognitive ergonomics and requires new design ideas to ensure successful human-data interaction. Our aim was to identify the cognitive factors that must be considered when designing systems to improve decision-making based on large amounts of data. We constructed a task that simulates the typical cognitive demands people encounter in data analysis situations. We demonstrate some essential cognitive limitations using a behavioural experiment with 20 participants. The studied task presented the participants with critical and noncritical attributes that contained information on two groups of people. They had to select the response option (group) with the higher level of critical attributes. The results showed that accuracy of judgement decreased as the amount of information increased, and that judgement was affected by irrelevant information. Our results thus demonstrate critical cognitive limitations when people utilise data and suggest a cognitive bias in data-based decision-making. Therefore, when designing for cognition, we should consider the human cognitive limitations that are manifested in a data analysis context. Furthermore, we need general cognitive ergonomic guidelines for design that support the utilisation of data and improve data-based decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehaviour & Information Technology
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1038-1047
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • Human-data interaction
  • cognition
  • decision-making
  • cognitive ergonomics

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