Due to the pandemic, remote meetings have become a common occurrence and as a result, people’s home environments are now visible to all participants via video calls. In order to avoid revealing personal information, many individuals choose to use virtual backgrounds. However, a recent study conducted by the British University of Durham and published in the scientific journal Plos One has shed light on the potential negative impact of using virtual backgrounds during video calls.
The study involved showing subjects smiling and serious individuals sitting in front of six different backgrounds such as a blank wall, bookshelf, houseplants, a view of a living room, blurred living room view and an arctic landscape with a walrus lying on glacier. Participants were asked to evaluate the trustworthiness and competence of the people in the pictures. The results showed that virtual backgrounds can significantly influence how people perceive each other during remote meetings. Individuals with a bookshelf or houseplants visible behind them were considered more reliable and competent while smiling improved their ratings significantly. On the other hand, participants rated the worst reviews for those with an arctic landscape with a walrus landscape.
Overall, this study highlights the importance of considering one’s virtual background when participating in video calls as it can have significant implications for how others perceive us in professional settings.