Empirical studies form an integral part of visualization research. Not only can they facilitate the evaluation of various designs, techniques, systems, and practices in visualization, but they can also enable the discovery of the causalities explaining why and how visualization works. This state-of-the-art report focuses on controlled and semi-controlled empirical studies conducted in laboratories and crowd-sourcing environments. In particular, the survey provides a taxonomic analysis of over 129 empirical studies in the visualization literature. It juxtaposes these studies with topic developments between 1978 and 2017 in psychology, where controlled empirical studies have played a predominant role in research. To help appreciate this broad context, the paper provides two case studies in detail, where specific visualization-related topics were examined in the discipline of psychology as well as the field of visualization. Following a brief discussion on some latest developments in psychology, it outlines challenges and opportunities in making new discoveries about visualization through empirical studies.