The pandemic has led to the widespread adoption of remote meetings, but with this shift came the challenge of making one’s home environment presentable via video calls. Many individuals have turned to using virtual backgrounds to hide their children, pets, or household messes from view. However, a study conducted by the British University of Durham and published in the scientific journal Plos One has revealed that 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, including 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, the study revealed that virtual backgrounds can have a significant impact on video calls and how they are perceived by others in a professional setting. It is important for individuals to consider their virtual background when participating in remote meetings and to choose one that presents themselves in the best possible light.