VC use curbs creativity, claims new study

VC use curbs creativity, claims new study
A new study claims that the use of videoconferencing systems can stifle creativity and the production of ideas.

The study, published in Nature, recruited 602 volunteers to participate in an incentive-aligned laboratory study in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia, selecting random pairs and instructing each pair to generate creative uses for a product for five minutes.

Volunteers then spent one minute selecting their most creative idea, working on tasks together either in person or virtually with their partner displayed by video across from them with self-view removed.

The researchers used a 15-in retina-display screen with no self-view for virtual pairs. Ideation performance was assessed by counting both the total number of ideas and the subset of creative ideas generated by each pair, highlighting the ‘creativity score’ of the pair’s selected idea and the ‘decision error score’ (the difference in creativity score between the top scoring idea and the selected idea).

The experiments concluded that virtual pairs generated fewer total ideas and creative ideas than the in-person pairs. On the other hand, the researchers discovered indications that virtual interaction may increase decision quality, as virtual pairs selected a significantly higher scoring idea and had significantly lower decision error scores.

The researchers found no evidence that videoconferencing groups are less effective than in-person groups, but claims that effects are driven by differences in the physical nature of videoconferencing and in-person interactions.

Eye gaze and recall measures are cited as key physical differences to in-person, claiming that videoconferencing hampers idea generation due to focusing communicators on a screen, prompting a narrower cognitive focus.

The results suggest that virtual interaction comes with a cognitive cost for the generation of creative ideas.

To correlate the findings, the researchers also conducted a field experiment which found preliminary evidence that decision quality was positively impacted by virtual interaction, however in-person teams had a significantly higher top-scoring idea in their generated idea pool.

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