Then the eyes gave it away. When Brucks tracked eye movement she found that people in the same room gazed away more often, looked around. But the remote meeting pairs didn’t. “They were too focused on specifically the task at hand and that made them narrower in their thinking,” Brucks said — in an interview over Zoom.
Staring isn’t good for creativity. While it’s rude to stare at someone in real life, it’s expected when on a video call, researchers said.
When it comes to evaluating those new ideas, though, that focus, at least in one-on-one chats, seems to make remote meetings slightly better than in-person chats, Wednesday’s study in the journal Nature said.
Researchers watched 745 pairs of engineers in five different countries try to come up with creative ideas for using a Frisbee or bubble wrap. Those in the same room generated on average one more idea, which is about 17% more than those in remote meetings. And those in-person ideas were judged by outside experts to be more creative, the study found.
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