Last Updated Sep 26, 2008 5:51 PM EDT
- The Find: Email may make it easier for your team to communicate, but it also makes them more likely to lie, recent research reports.
- The Source: A recent paper entitled "Being Honest Online: The Finer Points of Lying in Online Ultimatum Bargaining" co-authored by Liuba Belkin, assistant professor of management at Lehigh University, Terri Kurtzberg of Rutgers University and Charles Naquin of DePaul University.
Some students used email and some pen-and-paper to communicate how much they had received (truthfully or not) and their plans to divvy up the loot. The researchers found that "students using e-mail lied about the amount of money to be divided over 92% of the time, while less then 64% lied about the pot size in the pen-and-paper condition."
Not only did those using email lie more frequently, they also claimed to feel more justified deceiving their correspondent about the size of the pot. A follow-up study indicated that the more familiar an emailer was with his correspondent, the less likely it was that he would be deceptive.
Perhaps these results are just a corollary of the old truism that the anonymity of the Internet sometimes means less than lovely aspects of people come out online. But then again, writing a letter to a stranger is pretty anonymous as well. Whatever the explanation, the takeaway is clear, beware the corrupting temptation of email on both yourself and your team.
The Question: No lying now: how does your honesty in emails compare to your honesty in other forms of communication?