Some advantages of video conferencing over high-quality audio conferencing: Fluency and awareness of attentional focus

Owen Daly-Jones, Andrew Monk, Leon Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Citations (SciVal)


There are many commercial systems capable of transmitting a video image of parties in a conversation over a digital network. Typically, these have been used to provide facial images of the participants. Experimental evidence for the advantages of such a capability has been hard to find. This paper describes two experiments that demonstrate significant advantages for video conferencing over audio-only conferencing, in the context of a negotiation task using electronically shared data. In the video condition there was a large, high-quality image of the head and upper torso of the participant(s) at the other end of the link and high-quality sound. For the audio-alone condition the sound was the same but there was no video image. The criteria by which these two communication conditions were compared were not the conventional measures of task outcome. Rather, measures relating to conversational fluency and interpersonal awareness were applied. In each of the two experiments, participants completed the same task with data presented by a shared editor. In Experiment 1, they worked in pairs and in Experiment 2 they worked at quartets with two people at each end of the link. Fluency was assessed from transcripts in terms of length of utterance, overlapping speech and explicit questions. Only the latter measure discriminated between the two communication conditions in both experiments. The other measures showed significant effects in Experiment 2 but not in Experiment 1. Given this pattern of results it is concluded that video can result in more fluent conversation, particularly where there are more than two discussants. However, in the case of dyadic conversation auditory cues to turn taking, etc., would seem to suffice. In both experiments there was a large and significant effect on interpersonal awareness as assessed by ratings of the illusion of presence, and most clearly, awareness of the attentional focus of the remote partner(s). In Experiment 2, the ratings for the remote partners were similar to those for the co-located discussants, demonstrating the effectiveness of the video link with regard to these subjective scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-58
Number of pages38
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • Engineering(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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