Researchers have worked out why people shout so much on Zoom

People talk louder and make more exaggerated gestures when their video quality gets worse

People will raise their voices on video conferencing apps when their video quality gets worse, a new study has revealed.

Platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, and others boomed in popularity during the pandemic, but with lacklustre video quality caused by poor internet connnections, many people take to raising their voices and making exaggerated gestures to make up for it.

“This study has shown that, in unscripted, casual video-mediated conversation, when the visual channel is disrupted, the vocal channel is adapted to compensate”, researchers James P. Trujillo, Stephen C. Levinson and Judith Holler from Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, wrote.

“Our results therefore provide support for the notion that gesture is more than just a compensatory or supporting signal, but a core aspect of communication in its own right.”

The researchers analysed video calls between 20 pairs of participants, who talked to each other in unscripted conversations for 40 minutes. As the call when on, the video quality blurred for some participants while it improved for others.

People also increased the volume of their voice by up to five decibels and kept it at that level when gestures could not be seen because of falling video quality, with the researchers arguing that communication is an integrated system of both visual and auditory information.

The study has been published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

The UK suffers from particularly bad internet speeds, and there is a vast disparity between those with a good connection compared to those with a bad one.

In 2020, the country dropped from number 34 in a global ranking of broadband to 47 because of a slow pure fibre network rollout. The UK is placed 20th overall for internet speeds, at an average of 71.30 megabits per second.

However, the UK’s worst street for broadband speed is more than 800 times slower than the fastest, an annual survey found.

Kingsclere in Huntington, York, was identified as having an average speed of 0.22 megabits per second, 830 times slower than Darwin Street in Livingston, Scotland, where average speeds stand at 182.52 megabits per second.

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