You communicate in many ways — emails, telephone, instant message, face to face. But research reminds us not to forget the most powerful teller of trust. Paper. Researcher Charles Naquin showed how honest people behave when they communicate with email vs. pen and paper. In one study, 48 graduate business students were given $89 and had to decide whether to tell their partner how much money was in the “kiddy,” as well as how much of the money to share with their partner.
One group communicated by email and the other group by writing on pen and paper. The group that wrote emails lied about the amount of money (92%) more than the group that was writing by hand (63%). The email group was also less fair about sharing the money. In addition, participants in the email group felt justified in not being honest or fair. In another study, 177 managers played a group financial game. Participants were assigned to teams of three. Each member of the team had a chance to play the role of a manager allocating money for projects. They played with real money, and they were told that the amount of money available would be revealed after the game.
Some participants were told to communicate via email and others with paper and pen. The managers who communicated via email lied more and kept more money for themselves, compared to the managers who communicated with paper and pen.
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Hancock, Jeffrey T., Currya, L.E., Goorhaa, S., & Woodworth, M. On lying and being lied to: A linguistic analysis of deception in computer-mediated communication. www.informaworld.com, 45(1), 1-23. Naquin, C.E., Kurtzberg, T.R. & Belkin, L.Y. The finer points of lying online: e-mail versus pen and paper. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(2), 387-394.
Latest Update: Jun 05, 2016