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      Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue

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          Abstract

          For decades, scholars have predicted that videoconference technology will disrupt the practice of commuting daily to and from work and will change the way people socialize. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced a drastic increase in the number of videoconference meetings, and Zoom became the leading software package because it was free, robust, and easy to use. While the software has been an essential tool for productivity, learning, and social interaction, something about being on videoconference all day seems particularly exhausting, and the term “Zoom Fatigue” caught on quickly. In this article, I focus on nonverbal overload as a potential cause for fatigue and provide four arguments outlining how various aspects of the current Zoom interface likely lead to psychological consequences. The arguments are based on academic theory and research, but also have yet to be directly tested in the context of Zoom, and require future experimentation to confirm. Instead of indicting the medium, my goal is to point out these design flaws to isolate research areas for social scientists and to suggest design improvements for technologists.

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          Most cited references27

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          Computer-Mediated Communication: Impersonal, Interpersonal, and Hyperpersonal Interaction

          J. WALTHER (1996)
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            Gaze and eye contact: A research review.

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              EYE-CONTACT, DISTANCE AND AFFILIATION.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Technology, Mind, and Behavior
                American Psychological Association
                2689-0208
                February 23, 2021
                : 2
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1]Department of Communication, Stanford University
                Author notes
                Action Editor: Danielle S. McNamara was the action editor for this article.
                Acknowledgments: Thank you to Jeff Hancock who provided feedback throughout the writing of this piece, and also to Tobin Asher, Norah Dunbar, Eugy Han, Geraldine Fauville, Robert Lynch, Marijn Mado, Anna Queiroz, and Janine Zacharia for feedback. This research was supported by two National Science Foundation grants (IIS-1800922 and CMMI-1840131). I have no conflicts of interest to report.
                Disclaimer: Interactive content is included in the online version of this article.
                [*] Jeremy N. Bailenson, Department of Communication, Stanford University, Stanford, United States bailenson@gmail.com
                Author information
                https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2813-3297
                Article
                2021-22045-001
                10.1037/tmb0000030
                35369392
                96c4c4ae-fdec-4162-8352-035dd26c34bb
                © 2021 The Author(s)

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC-BY-NC-ND). This license permits copying and redistributing the work in any medium or format for noncommercial use provided the original authors and source are credited and a link to the license is included in attribution. No derivative works are permitted under this license.

                History

                Education,Psychology,Vocational technology,Engineering,Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                mutual gaze,computer-mediated communication,videoconferencing,interpersonal distance,nonverbal behavior

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