E-mail has become one of the dominant forms of workplace communication, but new research suggests it also may be the most deceptive.
Researchers at Rutgers and DePaul Universities studied how e-mail influenced communication among 48 graduate students. In the study, they told students they had $89. Each student could then divide the money any way he or she liked and give a portion to another person whom they didn’t know.
The students used e-mail or pen and paper to divvy the pot. In describing the amount of money to be divided, students using e-mail lied more than 92 percent of the time. In comparison, about 64 percent of the students using pen and paper lied about the pot size.
“There is a growing concern in the workplace over e-mail communications, and it comes down to trust,” said Liuba Belkin, a co-author of the study and an assistant professor of management at Lehigh University, in a press release. “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.”
Researchers noted that something changes when a person puts their fingers on a keyboard, rather than putting something in their own handwriting.
Photo by clix.