Forget email, study shows face-to-face requests get results

"The moment you decide to go from face-to-face to email, you are lowering your chances," said researcher Mahdi Roghanizad.
By Brooks Hays   |   May 11, 2017 at 10:26 AM

May 11 (UPI) -- If you need a favor or answer, the research is clear, the face-to-face request is the way to go. According to a new study, an in-person ask is 34 times more effective.

"I expected to see higher effectiveness in face-to-face -- but not that much," lead researcher Mahdi Roghanizad, a professor at Huron University College in Canada, said in a news release. "Thirty-four times more effective is huge and exceptional."

Roghanizad and his colleagues had 45 study participants ask a total of 450 strangers to complete a survey -- each participant asked 10 strangers. Half made their request via email, half asked face-to-face.

Strangers were 34 times more likely to agree to fill out a survey if asked face-to-face.

Researchers also had participants predict their success rate. Participants prepped to make in-person requests were more modest, predicting a success rate of five out of ten. Emailers predicted a success rate of 5.5 out of ten.

In reality, only 0.3 in 10 people agreed to fill out an emailed survey. The study -- published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology -- showed people overestimate the influence of email.

Participants also said they'd likely opt for email requests in the future, even among friends.

"With strangers, we like to avoid the awkwardness and embarrassment of approaching them. With an email, we get around that," Roghanizad said. "But even among friends, 50 percent of participants said they would go with email over face-to face, simply for convenience."

But convenience comes with a price.

"Asking a stranger face-to-face is significantly more effective compared with asking a friend through email," Roghanizad said. "The moment you decide to go from face-to-face to email, you are lowering your chances, no matter who you ask -- friends or strangers, it doesn't matter."

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