This paper reports on an empirical study investigating whether novice users infer higher spatial data quality from more realistic looking (static) displays depicted with a stereoscopic 3D viewing system. Thirty participants were presented with large 3D views including natural and built features at three levels of realism (photorealistic,
CAD-style, and sketch-style renderings). They were asked to rate the 3D view types in their confidence of being credible spatial representations of their real-world referents. Participants’ confidence ratings were significantly highest for photorealistic displays,
followed by CAD-style, and lastly sketch-style renderings. This study provides new insights into the effects of photorealism for spatial data depiction, and the potential
influence graphic fidelity might have on people’s beliefs in the quality of the underlying spatial data.