A face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email request

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face to face communication

New research has found that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, whilst underestimating the power of face-to-face communication.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45 participants asked 450 strangers (10 strangers each) to complete a brief survey.

All participants made the exact same request following the exact same script; however, half of the participants made their requests over email, while the other half asked face-to-face.

People were much more likely to agree to complete a survey when they were asked in-person as opposed to over email.

Prior to the test, the researchers asked participants in each condition to predict how many of the 10 strangers they asked would agree to fill out the survey. Participants in the face-to-face condition guessed that on average 5 out of 10 people would agree.  Participants in the email condition guessed that on average 5.5 out of 10 people would agree.  This difference was not statistically significant; 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.

Read more about the study here.