If you have an agent (or multiple agents) that can choose between two mutually exclusive states (1 and 2), then its preference for either state can be plotted with achoice plot.
I just made up the name…
If the agent has equal probability -at any given time- to be in state 1 or 2, you can plot the deviation from the chance level (i.e. 50%) of being in either states using a combination of color and location (e.g. above Vs below the x axis).
The Y axis represents the % time spent in state 1 (above X axis) and state 2 (below X axis). In this case I have plotted a group performance (see standard error bars).
The X axis is used to plot the minute by minute performance/choice.
How different behavioral patterns look like in the choice plot:
What I like about this plot
What I really like about this plot is its flexibility. This is how a good plot should be: it nicely bends to your will! I want a plot that can be easily customized to emphasize the story I want to tell. For example,
- You can choose the location of the states (above or below the x axis) to emphasize a rising or descending trend (see panels C and D, respectively).
- Deviations from the chance level are immediately visible thanks to the color on gray background (see panels A and B)
What I DON’T like about this plot
There are few things that I don’t like about this plot (mostly related to its implementation – i.e. the code in R):
- On the Y axis the % time for state 2 is reported as negative (this is a quick & dirty hack-trick to plot the state in the reverse direction). However, this can be easily fixed.
- The code is rather verbose and WET (… if WET is the oppposite of DRY – Do Not Repeat Yourself?) most of the code could use a refactoring to get rid of very similar instructions – basically everything in the for loop (lines 11~21).
- When plotting group performances the graph may be a bit awkawrd because the single bars do not add up to 100% – *see note at the end of the post.
- The managing of signs (thresholds, direction and +/-) may be a bit convoluted, but it makes sense if read by a human being …
The code (made in R)
This plot was generated (with random data*) in R – see code below.