Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 1992, 24 (2), 258-264. Copyright © 1992 The Psychonomic Society. Used by permission.


A single experiment studied how effectively information about the central tendency, variability, and shape of numeric data distributions could be conveyed to statistically knowledgeable subjects. The data were summarized by visual histograms, auditory histograms that coded numeric value as pitch on the musical scale, and five-note auditory analogues of a box-whisker display that coded the minimum, quartile, and maximum scores as musical notes. Regression and multidimensional scaling analysis of judgments of dissimilarity between distributions showed that auditory depiction provides a highly effective means of conveying information about distributional characteristics. Auditory depicition may be a useful alternative to traditional visual graphics.