Study eyes make the link between webcam meetings and “zoom fatigue”


WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 17: Members of the House Small Business Committee are shown on a monitor during a video conference in front of Steven Mnuchin, US Secretary of the Treasury, center, during a hearing on July 17, 2020 in Washington, DC The hearing is titled “Oversight of the Small Business Administration and the Department of Treasury Pandemic Programs.” (Photo by Erin Scott-Pool / Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The “constant mirror” effect of Zoom calls and other virtual meetings causes some people to say they’re done – but not everyone, new research from Washington State University finds .

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 WSU business students who had moved from in-person learning to virtual classes.

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

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

Seeing each other frequently in these meetings made them hate meetings more for very shy people. But, on the other hand, 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 think, especially with the self-report, it just suggests that some people are more sensitive to it than others,” she said.

While this may provide a partial explanation for Zoom’s 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 need to be careful when establishing universal rules for webcam use. Requiring people to use their cameras might make the experience more unpleasant for them.

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“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, ”Kuhn 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 would also like to see studies on how virtual meetings equalize participation.


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