Out of Sight,... How Asymmetry in Video-Conference Affects Social Interaction

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As social-mediated interaction is becoming increasingly important and multi-modal, even expanding into virtual reality and physical telepresence with robotic avatars, new challenges emerge. For instance, video calls have become the norm and it is increasingly common that people experience a form of asymmetry, such as not being heard or seen by their communication partners online due to connection issues. Previous research has not yet extensively explored the effect on social interaction. In this study, 61 Dyads, i.e. 122 adults, played a quiz-like game using a video-conferencing platform and evaluated the quality of their social interaction by measuring five sub-scales of social presence. The Dyads had either symmetrical access to social cues (both only audio, or both audio and video) or asymmetrical access (one partner receiving only audio, the other audio and video). Our results showed that in the case of asymmetrical access, the party receiving more modalities, i.e. audio and video from the other, felt significantly less connected than their partner. We discuss these results in relation to the Media Richness Theory (MRT) and the Hyperpersonal Model: in asymmetry, more modalities or cues will not necessarily increase feeling socially connected, in opposition to what was predicted by MRT. We hypothesize that participants sending fewer cues compensate by increasing the richness of their expressions and that the interaction shifts towards an equivalent richness for both participants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICMI '23
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 25th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction
EditorsElisabeth André, Mohamed Chetouani, Dominique Vaufreydaz, Gale Lucas, Tanja Schultz, Louis-Philippe Morency, Alessandro Vinciarelli
PublisherACM Publishing
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)979-8-4007-0055-2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2023
Event25th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction, ICMI 2023 - Paris, France
Duration: 9 Oct 202313 Oct 2023
Conference number: 25


Conference25th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction, ICMI 2023
Abbreviated titleICMI 2023


  • 2024 OA procedure
  • Mediated Communication
  • Social Computing
  • Social Interaction
  • Social Presence
  • Social Signals
  • Video-Conference
  • Asymmetry


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