Egocentrism over e-mail: Can we communicate as well as we think?

Despite the growing prevalence of virtual communications business, there’s still plenty of information that doesn’t get digitally encoded. Recent research (Egocentrism over e-mail: Can we communicate as well as we think? By Kruger, Justin; Epley, Nicholas; Parker, Jason; Ng, Zhi-Wen, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2005 Dec Vol 89(6) 925-936) shows that people correctly interpret the emotions of others over e-mail only about half of the time, although they think that they have made the correct inference almost 9 times out of 10. We need nonverbal cues to most effectively interpret the raw data—the words that we hear or read. In fact, according to Epley and Kruger, “it is not uncommon for paralinguistic information to more than merely supplement linguistic information, but to alter it completely.” This is one of the reasons for the frequency of online flaming.

Needless to say, it seems that in-person interaction skills will remain valuable for the foreseeable future.

(via Jonathan Rhinesmith)