In times of pandemics, digital communication replaces a large part of the personal contacts that are otherwise taken for granted. How can people feel connected despite the distance? That was one of the questions that social psychologists from the University of Duisburg-Essen investigated. The scientists also wanted to find out which type of digital communication is most likely to help comply with strict corona regulations and contact restrictions.
Although video calls show the other person and address several senses, they are not always the best way to stay in contact – this is the conclusion of the scientists led by Nicole Krämer, professor of social psychology at the University of Duisburg-Essen. “We found out that sending small messages via messenger – that could be texts or videos – helps to stay in contact better than video conferences,” she told dpa. “Such a quickly sent text message can lead to the feeling that ‘others are close to me'”, says Krämer.
Elaborate video calls
Video calls are more complex to plan and therefore less frequent. For the feeling “there are other people who are connected to me” it is enough to hear something from people throughout the day. In addition, the study based on several online surveys shows that video calls do not necessarily make it easier for people to adhere to strict corona requirements, says Krämer: “All messages that come via Messenger are obviously more helpful to keep people busy This could be due to the fact that the use of audiovisual channels increases the longing for personal contact and generates the impulse “I want out”.
The text of the study, which was carried out on the basis of several online surveys during the first lockdown in 2020, is available in English under the title “Putting the social back into physical distancing: The role of digital connections in a pandemic crisis” available for download as a PDF.