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Something important to say?

April 26, 2017

A recent study conducted by Huron University College’s Dr. Mahdi Roghanizad shows that when it comes to asking for something important—a donation to a cause, taking time to complete a much-needed survey—making the request in person is significantly more effective than electronic requests.

"In 2012 I read an article about social pressure in face-to-face communications and its role in persuasiveness. I thought it would be interesting to explore persuasion in email interactions where social pressure does not exist,” Dr. Roghanizad explains.

He continues: “Honestly, I was quite surprised with email being so ineffective among strangers (i.e. almost zero). I ran another experiment in January 2017 to examine the same effect among friends and, again to my surprise, it does persist! My coauthor (Vanessa Bohns from Cornell University) and I are planning to publish these recent findings in the next few months."

The study, which has been published in Harvard Business Review, reveals interesting assumptions we hold when it comes to how a request is best made.

This difference was not statistically significant,” Bohns writes in Harvard Business Review. “Participants who made requests over email felt essentially just as confident about the effectiveness of their requests as those who made their requests face-to-face, even though face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective than emailed ones.”

While text-based interactions might feel more convenient and comfortable, when it comes to meaningful conversations and requests, it’s face time—and the non-verbal cues that come with these in-person interactions—that influences how we choose to respond.