Since the COVID-19 pandemic, and video calls have been more common than ever. Now, a study carried out by researchers at Tampere University in Finland found that eye contact during video calls is comparable to in-person eye contact in terms of psychophysiological responses.
"Our results imply that the autonomic arousal response to eye contact requires the perception of being seen by another. Another person's physical presence is not required for this effect," says Jonne Hietanen, the first author of the study.
"Unexpectedly, we also found that even when the other person was presented just on video, seeing direct gaze elicited the subtle facial reactions of smiling. This suggests that these facial reactions are highly automated responses to eye contact," Hietanen continues.
The research concluded that there was a heightened autonomic arousal response during video-calls just as in-person calls.
"Most present-day applications do not permit direct eye contact as the other person is usually seen with a slightly averted gaze. Therefore, it is not clear whether these affective similarities between in-person and video call interactions extend to the use of applications such as Skype," Hietanen adds.
Researchers warn against definitive conclusions as more studies need to be completed—but they are hopeful that some of these results shed new light on technology and human behavior interaction.
Source: Science Daily