Summary: New research shows that the more a person looks at himself in a virtual meeting, the lower his mood.
A source: University of Illinois
New research shows that the more a person looks at himself during a conversation with his partner in an online chat, the worse his mood during the conversation. Researchers also say that alcohol consumption exacerbates the problem.
It was reported in the magazine The science of clinical psychologyResearchers say the results highlight the potentially problematic role of online dating platforms in exacerbating psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.
“We used eye-tracking technology to study the relationship between mood, alcohol and attention during virtual social interactions,” said Talia Aris, PhD candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, who led the study with Katarin, a professor of psychology at I. of I. Fairbairn.
“We found that participants who spent more time looking at themselves during the conversation felt worse after the call and after monitoring the negative mood before the interaction. Those who were intoxicated spent more time looking after themselves. ”
Research adds to previous research that people who pay more attention to external realities – especially during social interactions – are more likely to experience mood swings, Aris said.
“The more self-centered a person is, the more likely they are to experience emotions that are consistent with things like anxiety and even depression,” he said.
“Users of the Zoom online video calling platform increased 30-fold during the pandemic – from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million by April 2020,” the researchers wrote.
“The pandemic has led to increased levels of depression and anxiety, and given reports of self-awareness and ‘fatigue’ during virtual exchanges, some have played a role for virtual interactions in exacerbating such trends.”
In the study, participants answered questions about their emotional state before and after an online conversation. During the conversation, they were asked to talk about what they liked and did not like about life in the local community and to discuss their musical preferences.
Participants were able to see themselves and their talking partners on a split screen. Some drank alcohol before talking, while others drank non-alcoholic beverages.
In general, participants stared more at their conversational partners on the monitor than at themselves, the researchers said. However, there were significant differences in the timing of the self-examination.
“The great thing about virtual social interaction, especially on platforms like Zoom, is that you can liken the experience of looking in a mirror,” Aris said. This will allow researchers to study how self-focus affects many other factors, he said.
The addition of alcohol to the experiment and the use of eye-tracking technology allowed scientists to study the effects of light intoxication on a person’s attention.
Credit: University of Illinois
“In the context of personal-social interactions, there is strong evidence that alcohol acts as a social lubricant among drinkers and has mood-boosting properties,” Aris said.
“However, drinking alcohol had to pay more attention to itself and none of its mood-boosting effects, which was not true in online conversations.”
“In this time of pandemic, most of us have realized that virtual interaction isn’t just face-to-face,” Fairburn said.
“A lot of people are struggling with fatigue and melancholy a day after Zoom meetings. Our work shows that the self-view offered on many online video platforms can make this interaction even more syllabic than required.
Funding: The National Institutes of Health supported the study.
Psychological research news about this
Author: Diana Yates
A source: University of Illinois
The connection: Diana Yates – University of Illinois
Photo: Photo by Michelle Hassel
Original study: Results are displayed in the year The science of clinical psychology