Framing bias: the effect of figure presentation on seismic interpretation

Juan Alcalde, Clare E Bond, Charles H Randle

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Interpreters of reflection seismic data generally use images to disseminate the outcomes of their geological interpretation work. The presentation of such interpretation images can generate unwanted biases in the perception of the observers; an effect known as “framing bias”. These framing biases can enhance or reduce the confidence of the observer in the presented interpretation, independently of the quality of the seismic data or the geological interpretation. In this work, we tested the effect of presentation on confidence in interpretation of 761 participants of an online experiment. Experiment participants were presented with seismic images and interpretations, deliberately modified in different aspects to introduce potential framing biases. Statistical analysis of the results show that image presentation had a subdued effect on participant’s confidence compared to the quality of the seismic data and of the interpretation. The results allow us to propose recommendations to minimise biases in the observers related to the presentation of seismic interpretations: a) interpretations should be shown with the seismic data in the background to ease comparison between uninterpreted-interpreted data and the subsequent confidence assessments; b) seismic data displayed in colour aids in the interpretation, although the colour-palettes must be carefully chosen to prevent unwanted bias from common colour spectrum in the observers; and c) explicit indication of uncertainty by the interpreters in their own interpretation, which was deemed useful by the participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)T591-T605
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date24 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

The authors thank all the participants in the survey, and those who helped to distribute it. We thank Prof. Christopher Jackson and co-authors for allowing the use of their published images in this experiment. Juan Alcalde is funded by NERC grant NE/M007251/1, on interpretational uncertainty.


  • interpretation
  • visualisation


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