WSU study: Some people are more sensitive to webcams than others


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The “constant mirror” effect of Zoom calls and other virtual meetings has some people saying they’re done – but not everyone, says a new study from Washington State University.

Kristine Kuhn, associate professor at WSU’s Carson College of Business, said she hated everything being brought back online in the spring of 2020. She didn’t have the opportunity to get someone’s attention in a room. conference and felt that virtual meetings were more cognitively demanding.

So, she began to explore why these video calls were so difficult and uncomfortable for some people.

In the summer and fall of 2020, she completed two studies. One involved a group of employees from various professions who had switched to remote work. The other involved junior and senior business students at WSU who had moved from in-person learning to virtual courses.

Study participants reported their thoughts on their virtual experiences and each described their level of self-awareness in public.

What Kuhn’s data shows is that people’s opinion of virtual meetings depended on the audience’s level of self-awareness.

For very shy people, seeing each other frequently in these meetings made them hate meetings more. People who weren’t so embarrassed in public weren’t so worried about meetings.

Kuhn said this research could help explain why some people are affected by “zoom fatigue.”

“I’m thinking specifically of self-assessment, it just suggests that some people are more sensitive to it than others,” she said.

While this may provide a partial explanation for “zoom fatigue,” Kuhn said there are many other factors that could affect people, such as the general desire for an in-person environment.

She said the study results indicate that managers and teachers should be careful when establishing universal rules for webcam use. Requiring people to use their cameras might make the experience more unpleasant for them.

“Recognize that this may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, depending on the purpose of the meeting, how you all know each other, depending on how many people are attending. You might want to be a little more flexible in your camera policies, ”she said.

She said more research is needed to determine how to effectively use meeting platforms and whether turning on a camera impacts learning outcomes. She also said she would like to see studies done on how virtual meetings equalize participation.


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