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These researchers explain why Zoom calls are wearing us out

This is one of the most visible effects of the health crisis. While face-to-face meetings are sometimes discouraged, the use of video calls has grown considerably. Over time, we have also realized that videoconferencing generates fatigue among users.

Science has focused on this concept of “ Zoom Fatigue ”and in particular researchers from Stanford University. The problem is all the more embarrassing as certain inconveniences are identified, including difficulty concentrating, irritability, or headaches and backaches.

More conversations difficult to follow

To explain this phenomenon, scientists suggest several explanations: intense eye contact, slightly off-center eye contact, being in front of a camera, body movements limited, a lack of non-verbal communication.

Julie Boland, a researcher in Psychology at the University of Michigan, was also interested in “Zoom Fatigue”. In The Conversation , she recounted an experiment that she decided to conduct with three of her students.

She was thus able to observe that “ the response times to pre-recorded yes / no questions more than tripled when the questions were broadcast by Zoom instead of being broadcast by the participant’s computer. ”

The scientist adds:” The second experiment reproduced this discovery in a natural and spontaneous conversation between friends. In this study, the transition times between speakers were on average 132 milliseconds in person, but 487 milliseconds for the same pair of speakers speaking on Zoom. If less than half a second seems fast enough, this difference represents an eternity in terms of natural rhythms of conversation. ”

To simplify, the latency, which is only a few milliseconds, to send the audio and video signals to the interlocutor therefore causes discomfort in his brain, which must work all the more to follow the conversation. ” This could help explain my feeling that conversations on Zoom were more tiring than if they had taken place in person “, analyzes Julie Boland .