Study: Email Creates Greater Workplace Deception


It's hard to imagine what work would be like without the convenience of email. Memos and inter-office mail would replace the send and reply world we work in now, and there's some speculation that this type of environment would create a more trustworthy workforce. Researchers tested email versus written communication and discovered that subjects were more honest when putting something in writing versus typing.

The testers told the subjects they had $89 to divide between themselves and a stranger. Each used email and a pen and paper to describe their plan for dividing the pot, and 92 percent of them lied about the pot's size via email while 64 lied on paper. Liuba Belkin, a co-author of the study relates the findings to the workplace: "You’re not afforded the luxury of seeing nonverbal and behavioral cues over e-mail. And in an organizational context, that leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation and, as we saw in our study, intentional deception."

Co-author Terri Kurtzberg adds, "People seem to feel more justified in acting in self-serving ways when typing as opposed to writing." Do you think the study's assessment of email communication is accurate?

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