English in Zoom Conversations: The Effects of Interlocutor Visibility and Linguistic Background on Likeability, Prosocial Behaviour, Task Success and Communicative Success in ELF Speakers.

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With increased video conversations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of English as a lingua franca, the way this affects communication has to be investigated. Previous studies showed that video conversations differ from face-to-face communication regarding less turn-taking and fewer interruptions. Moreover, visibility in online conversation allows interlocutors to see non-verbal communication, and the conversations were shown to be more successful. Sharing a linguistic background has resulted in higher attitudinal evaluations and communicative efficiency. The current study investigated to what extent interlocutor visibility and linguistic background affect communicative success, perceived interlocutor likeability, perceived interlocutor prosocial behaviour, and perceived task success. In an experiment, Dutch and German participants (N = 58) conducted a spot-the-difference task pairwise. Based on a shared or mixed linguistic background and either seeing their interlocutor or not, participants evaluated each other on the above factors. Findings suggest that visibility impacts communicative success, showing that participants rated their perceived communicative success higher when they saw each other than when they did not. The study extends existing knowledge in literature by combining visibility and linguistic background in an experiment, and the results can set a starting ground for future investigation. The findings could help managers and communication professionals in multilingual teams further strengthen their virtual communication practices.
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