Zoom mirror effect not unpleasant for everyone, study finds

Contrary to belief, a new study has found that not everyone hates seeing themselves on Zoom meetings and that these Zoom mirror effect leaving an unpleasant experience depends on the person.

Washington State University researchers have said that the “constant mirror” effect of seeing their own faces didn’t appear to make virtual meetings more unpleasant and rather it varies from individual to individual. For their study researchers surveyed two groups of people who attended regular virtual meetings as a result of the pandemic: employees and college students.

The participants’ attitudes toward the self-view feature depended on an individual trait—public self-consciousness. Those low in this trait tended to have more positive attitudes toward their virtual meetings the more often their own faces were visible to them.

Researchers surveyed more than 80 employees from different parts of the U.S. who had been shifted to remote work and about 350 business college students whose classes had been moved online. All the participants answered a variety of questions about the nature of their work or class meetings and their feelings toward them. They also completed an assessment of their public self-consciousness.

For both groups, the study revealed there was not a simple correlation between how often people saw their own faces during their virtual meetings and their overall attitude toward them. Rather, for highly self-conscious people, more frequent self-view was associated with worse attitudes, and the opposite was true for those low in self-consciousness.

Researchers noted that there are a number of other factors that influence how satisfied people are with their virtual meetings, including their perceived control over when to have their camera on. They cautioned that the study only focused on people’s emotional reactions to their experience of virtual meetings and did not assess factors like meeting effectiveness or learning outcomes.

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