Re: Dooooo it! Ask in person, you're more convincing

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The next time you want your coworker to help you out on your new big project, consider asking in person rather than via email, as a study from the US and Canada suggests that you are far less convincing than you think you are over email. Researchers asked students to rate the likelihood that people would comply with their request to fill out a questionnaire when asked face-to-face or over email. They found that the students overestimated how many people targeted with emails would respond to the questionnaire. The scientists suggest that this is people people believe that their persuasiveness has the same value in both face-to-face and email interactions.

Journal/conference: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Organisation/s: University of Waterloo, Canada

Media Release

From: Elsevier

Trust me, you’re more persuasive face-to-face

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology has found that people overestimate their ability to persuade others over email. The differences between people’s perception of how persuasive they are, and how persuasive they actually are, have been documented in previous research. Studies have shown that people underestimate the likelihood that a stranger will comply with their request when approached in person. However, the new study suggests that the opposite is true for email contact. Researchers asked students to target people both face-to-face and over email, and asked them to rate the likelihood that people would comply with their request to fill out a questionnaire. While students correctly identified that it’s harder for someone to say no if you ask them something in person, generally they overestimated how many email targets would complete the questionnaire. Researchers believe this is because ‘requesters’ i.e. those trying to do the persuasion, assume that email contact has the same level of implicit trust as people convey in face-to-face interactions.


  • Elsevier
    Email-persuasion_Journal-of-Experimental-Psychology_media-release.docx, 12.6 KB
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