Zoom Meetings Are Probably Making You Dumber

Zoom Meetings Are Probably Making You Dumber

A recent study has shown that while we remain hyper-focused on a single person on our screens, we’re unable to come up with any good new ideas, leading us to be less productive as we usually are during in-person meetings.

According to the research, looking at someone during a video call is expected. But while our mind is occupied with that task, it is unable to think, as our eyes don’t have the opportunity to drift away as much as they would if we were in the same room with the person (or people) we are speaking with.

That leads to less creativity and fewer ideas in crucial junctures such as business meetings. However, when we’re called to evaluate any potential new ideas, our singular focus is more beneficial than if we were in a big room with all our colleagues.

The study, conducted by the journal Nature, asked over 700 engineers from across the world to brainstorm ideas about how to use a frisbee or bubble wrap. Those who were placed in the same room were able to come up with one idea on average, which is about 17 percent more than what those who had to collaborate in online Zoom meetings.

The author of the study, Melanie Brucks, who works at the University of Columbia as an applied psychology professor, pointed out that the results of the research were as anticipated, however the reason behind them was not.

Although initially she thought it was the distance and lack of connection that was the main issue behind the lack of creativity, a series of tests proved that that wasn’t the case.

“Then the eyes gave it away,” she said.

Brucks added that people who had to work together online were simply too focused on staring at their screen and how the person on the other side is reacting to them to be able to think about anything else.

Adam Green, president of the Neuroscience of Creativity, pointed out that this was reasonable since faces tend to become the centre of our entire focus when speaking to another person.

“Faces really matter to our brains and we devote a lot of attention to looking at faces. When we are with someone in person, it is not considered polite to stare directly at their face for an extended period of time.”


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