Leveraging Virtual Backgrounds for Trust Building in Video Conferencing
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In the digital age where video conferencing has become a norm, the ambiance you project during your virtual meetings can significantly influence the impression you leave on others. A recent study reveals how your choice of Zoom background can either propel or hinder your professional interactions. This leads us to the spotlight on a remarkable product – Chromacam, which is designed to help users replace their traditional backgrounds or even swap their actual camera presence with a 3D avatar, allowing for a more controlled and personalized on-screen appearance.
New research delved into the connection between online interactions and the subsequent judgments formed by individuals. Published in the journal Plos One, the study utilized 72 images of 36 adults showcasing varied expressions. These images were integrated onto different virtual backgrounds, replicating the typical setup of a video conference call.
In this examination, six different backgrounds were utilized: a home setting, a blurred home setting, a bookcase, a cluster of plants, a blank wall, and a novelty background featuring a walrus before an iceberg. The researchers then gathered 167 participants ranging from 19 to 68 years of age, who were instructed to fill an online questionnaire gauging the trustworthiness and competence of individuals in the displayed images.
The verdict was quite clear. Individuals pictured against a backdrop of plants or a bookcase were perceived as more trustworthy and competent compared to those with home or novelty backgrounds. Paddy Ross, the lead researcher and an associate professor of psychology at Durham University, conveyed his astonishment at the strong consistency of the responses.
Over 160 participants’ responses revealed a distinct preference for backgrounds of bookcases and plants, associating them with higher trust and competency, while living room and novelty backgrounds were linked to lower ratings in these aspects.
Ross dubbed the carefully curated video call background as “the new business suit,” signifying a shift from traditional focus on attire to the visual setup in a virtual environment. This shift underscores the essence of how you present yourself online.
Moreover, the study pointed out that a positive demeanor, like smiling, enhanced perceived trustworthiness and competence regardless of the background. Interestingly, female participants were generally perceived as more trustworthy and competent across various backgrounds.
As the research team gears up to extend their study using simulated video calls, this could unveil further insights on how backgrounds might impact larger decisions, like hiring. This is where Chromacam steps into the limelight, offering users a tool to control their virtual ambiance, which can be particularly beneficial in professional settings. By allowing users to replace their backgrounds or even themselves with a 3D avatar, Chromacam presents a powerful solution for individuals to manage how they are perceived in the virtual world, potentially aiding in building trust and showcasing professionalism in video conferencing encounters.