The pandemic has led to an increase in remote meetings, and as a result, people’s home environments are now visible to all participants via video calls. In an effort to avoid showing their children, pets, or household messes during these meetings, many individuals have opted to use virtual backgrounds. However, a study conducted by the British University of Durham and published in the scientific journal Plos One has revealed that using virtual backgrounds may not necessarily make a good impression on other meeting participants.
The study involved showing subjects smiling and serious individuals sitting in front of six different backgrounds, such as a blank wall, a bookshelf, houseplants, a view of a living room, a blurred living room view, and an arctic landscape with a walrus lying on a glacier. Participants were asked to evaluate the trustworthiness and competence of the people in the pictures. The results showed that the background can have a strong influence on how people perceive each other in remote meetings. Individuals with a bookshelf or houseplants visible behind them were considered the most reliable and competent, while smiling significantly improved their ratings. On the other hand, the worst reviews were given to the walrus landscape.
Overall, this study highlights the impact of virtual backgrounds on video calls and how they can influence how others perceive us in professional settings. It is important for individuals to be aware of this and choose their virtual background carefully when participating in remote meetings.