The Ethics of Data Visualization


Second-Year Data Science

Class Time:

One 2-hour class

Last Modified:

Fri 03 March 2023

Data Visualization

In this module, students explore the ethics of manipulation in data visualization. Students are led through three activities. First, they look at several data visualizations and rank them from most to least manipulative. Second, they imagine how the characteristics of the audience of a visualization make them more or less prone to manipulation. Finally, they redesign a visualization so that it is less manipulative. Between the exercises, the ethics instructor helps to frame their answers in terms of concepts like manipulation and paternalism, while the computer science instructor illuminates the design techniques behind the visualizations as well as the cognitive biases that make people prone to manipulation.

This module was developed by Steven Coyne and Carolina Nobre. Diane Horton, David Liu, and Sheila McIlraith provided feedback on this module.


Module materials coming soon.