Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue

beSpacific 2021-02-25

Bailenson, J. N. (2021). Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue. Technology, Mind, and Behavior, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000030

“For decades, scholars have predicted that videoconference technology will disrupt the practice of commuting daily to and from work and will change the way people socialize. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced a drastic increase in the number of videoconference meetings, and Zoom became the leading software package because it was free, robust, and easy to use. While the software has been an essential tool for productivity, learning, and social interaction, something about being on videoconference all day seems particularly exhausting, and the term “Zoom Fatigue” caught on quickly. In this article, I focus on nonverbal overload as a potential cause for fatigue, and provide four arguments outlining how various aspects of the current Zoom interface likely lead to psychological consequences. The arguments are based on academic theory and research, but also have yet to be directly tested in the context of Zoom, and require future experimentation to confirm. Instead of indicting the medium, my goal is to point out these design flaws to isolate research areas for social scientists and to suggest design improvements for technologists.”