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Effects of improved television weather graphics and visual/verbal redundancy on viewer comprehension

, The University of New Mexico, United States

The University of New Mexico . Awarded


The intent of the study was to investigate the impact of recent developments in computer-generated graphics technology on viewer comprehension. Additionally, the effect of visual/verbal redundancy cues on viewer comprehension is investigated. Survey and test instruments were administered to subjects in both Albuquerque, New Mexico and Waco, Texas. Significant interactions were attributed to the use of 10 year-old weather graphics technology and state-of-the-art technology relating to the pace used by the meteorologist during a forecast. Differences in forecast comprehension scores between male and female subjects who viewed television weather forecasts using either “old” or “new” graphics technology were also significant.

The subjects randomly assigned into treatment groups included adult males and females representing a wide range of ages, educational backgrounds, and ethnicity. Samples included 251 individuals from both New Mexico, and central Texas.

The independent variable was the specially produced weathercast, which had four variations. The dependent variable was a comprehension score of forecast content. Two of the weathercasts were identical in content and language with the only significant difference being one was produced with Weather Spectrum International 9000 (WSI) graphics that were introduced into the marketplace in the 1980s, while the other forecast was produced using a Weather Central Genesis System introduced into the marketplace in the late 1990s. Two other weathercasts were produced using the same graphics, but in one the meteorologist purposely mismatched his language to not exactly match the graphics being presented. This represented “low” visual/verbal redundancy. In the other weathercast the meteorologist gave particular attention to match his language with the graphics being presented, thus representing “high” visual/verbal redundancy. The presenter for the weathercasts was an award winning certified meteorologist.

It was determined that “new” weather graphics can improve viewer comprehension if the meteorologist takes a little more time explaining the map. Today's weather maps are more sophisticated and it may take more time for viewers to process all of the data, but they can gain more comprehension of forecast details. It was concluded that meteorologists might need to use fewer maps in a forecast, and focus the viewer's attention, thus providing a more informative weather forecast.


Siebert, D.J. Effects of improved television weather graphics and visual/verbal redundancy on viewer comprehension. Ph.D. thesis, The University of New Mexico. Retrieved March 26, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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