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Information visualization

People are being confronted with an ever increasing flood of information. Research projects in this area aim to discover how complex information should be visualized in a user-friendly way based on the latest findings of cognitive basic research.

Research projects

Ongoing research projects

  • EU Energy Labels
    The Paris Agreement sent a clear message: 195 states in the world want to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (like CO2), to limit climate change. One way to decrease CO2 emissions is through the use of energy-efficient household appliances. With the European energy label (EU energy label), which rates an appliance’s energy consumption, the intention is to move customers to choose products that consume less energy. The new EU label (with A+++ added to the scale) does not fulfil this objective, as shown by consumers’ decreasing willingness-to-pay when buying energy-efficient appliances. Following latest findings in cognitive psychology basic research, the Applied Cognitive Psychology section is investigating how the EU label must be designed in order to increase willingness-to-pay and thus consumers’ purchasing of energy-efficient household appliances. 
  • Food Labels
    Unhealthy nutrition and its consequences, such as overweight and obesity, and subsequent health conditions (for example, diabetes) incur enormous costs. Each day we make about 200 decisions on nutrition but only a few of these decisions are made consciously. Making nutritional choices with awareness means, among other things, that people must pay attention to nutrition facts labels. Considering that people spend on average only 25 to 100 milliseconds looking at nutrition facts labels, this is an impossibility. Current food labels like nutrition facts (but also "traffic light" systems) are therefore not able to influence purchasing behaviour in the decision-making situation in the supermarket. Together with designers, the Applied Cognitive Psychology section is developing new food labels in line with the latest findings in cognitive psychology basic research.
  • SBB Departure Boards
    At railway stations the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) uses departure boards that display up-to-date train connections digitally. The presentation of the information (departure times, destinations, track numbers, etc.) is not uniform on all departure boards, however. This means that it can take people time to locate desired information (such as connections) – time that is needed for changing trains. Based on the latest findings cognitive psychology basic research, the Applied Cognitive Psychology section is examining how information must be presented so that people can perceive and process it quickly and correctly and not miss their trains.

Completed research projects

  • Pictograms on Package Inserts
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified non-adherence, or not taking medications as prescribed, as one of the greatest risk factors for disease, morbidity, and rising health costs. One of the challenges is that the text-heavy package inserts are too complex and therefore not understandable. The aim of this study is to help solve this problem through the use of pictograms on package inserts. In line with the latest findings in cognitive psychology basic research, and together with universities and designers, the objective is to design a new set of pictograms on indications, side effects, forms of drug administration, warnings, and more and to test them in the laboratory.
  • Risk Visualization in the Investment Sector
    Questionnaires alone do not measure investors’ risk tolerance sufficiently to serve as the basis for determining the investment strategy for a client’s portfolio. It has been shown that investment risks are under- or overestimated depending on the situation and the time point of risk profiling. Together with the ZHAW School of Management and Law, we therefore developed, with AEK Bank 1826 and K&W Software AG, visualized risk profiles that allow clients to choose their investment strategy in a transparent way.