usability – Step shaped visual layout of cascading filters

I find this layout of cascading filters:

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much more intuitive and much more “welcoming” to use, over the traditional, horizontal axis layout:

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I am trying to explain to myself why this is so. I would presume that the step-shaped layout:

  • is easier on the eyes to get what is on the screen, given that the eyes move in specific patterns and linear layouts are not the most ergonomic for those natural eye movements (Types of Eye Movements and Their Functions)

  • the step-shaped pattern emphasizes mental association with hierarchy, making it even easier to get around what should be clicked first and what next.

What do you think? How would you explain the the difference in the perception of how easy it is to go through the filters by science?

Related questions:
Ellipse-shape arrangement of menu items