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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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Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I think one thing is that writing by hand is slower, so you have more time to think about what you're saying, while typing is so fast that it probably encourages impulsiveness.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that a lot of people use email so that they don't have to deal with immediate responses of a conversation, and if that means avoiding eye contact or what have you then it makes sense. for myself - i use email so that i don't have to backtrack and try to figure out what the paper trail was on a conversation. you have it all in writing and you're covering your own butt because people can't say that they did or didn't say something when you have an email.
eadavenp eadavenp 8 years
I'm more troubled by the fact that according to this study, more than half the people lied about sharing money(i.e. how much there was to share?). You are getting free money, why should you lie to get more of it? It wasn't yours in the first place!
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