Eccentric Gaze as a Possible Cause of “Zoom Fatigue”.

PubMed ID: 34672912

Author(s): Kushner BJ. Eccentric Gaze as a Possible Cause of “Zoom Fatigue”. J Binocul Vis Ocul Motil. 2021 Oct 21:1-6. [Epub ahead of print] PMID 34672912

Journal: Journal Of Binocular Vision And Ocular Motility, Oct 2021

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BACKGROUND The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a marked increase in the use of videoconferencing for social interaction. Many people report discomfort and disaffection with this modality, which has been labeled “Zoom Fatigue.” Common videoconferencing hardware setups necessitate that if a user looks at the image of the person with whom they are in videoconference, they will not be looking directly at the camera and will appear to not be making direct eye contact. This study determined the minimum threshold of eccentric gaze in a videoconferencing setup above which subjects are perceived as not making direct eye contact by the majority of untrained observers.

METHODS Image captures were made of four subjects successively fixating at small increments eccentric to a video camera, both vertically and horizontally ranging from 0.9 degrees to 19 degrees of eccentricity. The images were embedded in separate Powerpoint files for each subject. Each file was assessed by seven graders who indicated whether or not they felt the subject was looking directly at them in each slide.

RESULTS The threshold for which 75% of the graders could detect that the subject was not looking at them ranged from only 2.7 degrees for horizontal eccentricity to 5.4 degrees for vertical eccentricity.

CONCLUSION The hardware setups commonly used for videoconferencing result in persistent eccentric gaze of the participating individuals if they look at the image of the other participants. In theory, this could be a contributing cause of Zoom Fatigue.