A researcher has revealed that people are far more likely to tell lies using email than they would do if they were writing on pen and paper it seems. In two studies, Liuba Belkin reached the conclusion that people lie 50 percent more often in emails.
This, of course, is no real ground-shaker. After all, if you cannot embellish the truth while enjoying the remote safety net of email communication then when can you? Well, maybe in a text message on your mobile phone, but that's besides the point. What is rather surprising is that the studies tend to suggest that people feel quite happy, quite justified in fact, in telling whopping great porkies in their email messages.
Belkin, an assistant professor of management in the college of business and economics at Lehigh University is concerned that email is getting a reputation as an untrustworthy medium. “You’re not afforded the luxury of seeing non-verbal 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” she says.
Indeed, in one study that involved 48 full-time MBA students being given $89 to share between themselves and a fictional party, only aware that there was between 5 and 100 bucks in the pool, saw students using email fib over 90 percent of the time compared to those using pen and paper who 'only' lied around 60 percent of the time.
A second study tried to delve deeper into whether a shared sense of identity can reduce the email lie impulse. This time with 69 full-time MBA students, the results revealed that the more familiar the emailers were the less deceptive they tended to be.
Well knock me down with a feather on that one. Not.
They did, however, still lie. And that regardless of how well they identified with each other.
“The study of industrial psychology and the evolving use of e-mail are presenting some interesting challenges for organizations across the board,” says Belkin “We know it’s a socially acceptable way to communicate, but how that translates in the workplace is a different story entirely.”
I wonder, was Sarah Palin involved in the survey considering here recent run in with email honesty? Here in the UK the Government is considering reading all our email which just makes me want to lie more, rather than less, in order to confuse the poor dears...