Attention Contagion Online: Attention Spreads Between Students in a Virtual Classroom

Simrandeep S. Kalsi, Noah D. Forrin, Faria Sana, Colin M. MacLeod, Joseph A. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


(In)attentiveness can spread between students in the same learning environment, affecting their learning (Forrin et al., 2021). The present study is the first to investigate whether this phenomenon—attention contagion— extends to virtual classrooms when students have their webcams on. Undergraduate student participants (n = 74) watched a prerecorded lecture along with research confederates who were visible in “webcam video thumbnails.” The confederates behaved either attentively or inattentively. Consistent with attention contagion, studentswhowatched the lecturewith attentive (vs. inattentive) confederates reported being more attentive and they learned more of the lecture content—performing 12%better on a postlecture quiz. They also perceived the lecture as more important, suggesting that social inferences (e.g., “this lecture is important”) may undergird attention contagion. These novel findings indicate that the influence ofwebcams on students’ learning depends, in part, on whether classmates are visibly attentive or inattentive. Attention is contagious online.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr. 2022


  • attention
  • memory
  • online learning
  • simulated classroom
  • social inferences


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