Zoom vs In-Person: The Science is In

Research has just come out that tracks neural activity between people interacting on Zoom and compares it to activity between people interacting in person. The results are definitely in line with what I, and lots of people I’ve talked to, have experienced in our virtual environment.

The lead researcher, Yale neuroscientist Joy Hirsch, said, “Zoom appears to be an impoverished social communication system relative to in-person conditions.”

Essentially, our brains don’t react or process inputs the same way when we’re connecting through a screen. One element of the research was particularly interesting to me: when people communicated in person, there was more “coordinated neural activity” between their brains, which “suggests an increase in reciprocal exchanges of social cues between the interacting partners.”

I wouldn’t have known the neurological reason this was happening, but yes!  I’ve frequently had the experience of falling into total thought rhythm with another person when we’re sharing the same physical space, but I have never had it online. It’s more productive, more efficient, more innovative, less tiring, and more fun. 

I recognize that our hybrid world is here to stay. However, it’s well worth our time to be intentional about what interactions we have virtually, and which ones are worth the effort to have in person.

Here’s a link to the article!

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