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Choosing Backgrounds for Success: The Role of Videoconference Backgrounds in Self-Presentation

Journal of the Association for Consumer Research Volume 8, Number 2, April 2023 [no fee]  – “Videoconferencing offers firms and employees novel options for self-presentation in the form of onscreen backgrounds. We explore how customer service employees can use videoconference backgrounds to manage customers’ impressions of them and their firm. Four experiments, including a Facebook ad study, demonstrate that employees and customers prefer different types of backgrounds. We find that employees are miscalibrated about using revealing versus nonrevealing backgrounds, where revealing backgrounds convey information about their personality or preferences. Those in an employee role prefer to use nonrevealing (vs. revealing) backgrounds because they perceive that such backgrounds convey greater competence. In contrast, those in a customer role prefer interacting with employees who use revealing (vs. nonrevealing) backgrounds because they perceive that such backgrounds convey greater warmth. These differential background preferences have downstream consequences. Customers judge service quality as higher and are more likely to click on a Facebook ad when employees use revealing (vs. nonrevealing) backgrounds.”

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