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    Impact of video-mediated online social presence and observance on cognitive performance

    Sutskova, Olga and Senju, Atsushi and Smith, Tim J. (2022) Impact of video-mediated online social presence and observance on cognitive performance. Technology, Mind, and Behavior 3 (2), ISSN 2689-0208.

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    The onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shifted most of the world toward remote working and education. As the world continues to embrace remote virtual communication in the post-COVID-19 era, it is crucial to investigate the impacts of online social copresence on cognitive performance. The present study investigated how the online videoconference presence of a virtual companion affects participants performance on cognitive relational-reasoning tasks. The companion was either present and attentive to the participant, present but nonattentive, or absent. We manipulated the agency of a virtual companion, who was either a real human, an avatar controlled by a human, or an artificial intelligence (AI)-controlled agent. We hypothesized that the mere presence of a virtual companion, and the observance of participants’ performance, would influence participants’ performance. The results were broadly in line with our hypothesis that a mere presence of a virtual companion improved cognitive performance irrespective of their agency. However, the direction of the results did not support our prediction. We did not find a systematic impact of observance on cognitive performance, not supporting our second hypothesis. Participants performed best overall with an AI-controlled agent, next best with an avatar and worst with a real-human companion. We also observed that participants performed more accurately when a virtual companion was present but nonattentive, and faster when a virtual companion observed the participants, compared to when the participants performed alone. We conclude that online videoconference presence with a virtual companion, regardless of observance, temporarily enhances cognitive performance, and discuss the implications of these findings.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): cognitive performance, social facilitation effect (SFE), agent, avatar, online social video interaction
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    SWORD Depositor: Mr Joe Tenant
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 17 May 2023 14:41
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:16


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