People more likely to lie in emails

Psychological study shows we are 'more likely' to lie in emails than in handwritten notes

Most of us are pretty distrustful of the majority of emails in our inbox, but even those from friends and colleagues should be treated with scepticism.

US researchers found that people are more likely to lie in emails than in handwritten communication such as letters.

During psychological tests carried out at three different universities, students were given $89 (£50) and told to split it with somebody they didn’t know and who did not know the total amount of money.

Shockingly, 92% of the students dividing the money over email lied, while 64% lied when writing a hand-written note.

The emailers gave their anonymous partner $29 (£16) and kept $60 (£34) for themselves. The traditional pen and paper students kept $55 (£31).

In a second round of tests, students were asked to share the money with someone they knew. The incidence of lying was reduced, but people still lied about the amount of money being split.

Liuba Belkin, co-author of the report, warned that we should be careful when conducting business via email.

‘You’re not afforded the luxury of seeing non-verbal and behavioural cues [such as avoiding eye contact] over email, and in an organisational context that leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation and – as we saw in our study – intentional deception,’ she said.

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