If You’re Asking For a Favor, Put Away Your Smartphone


Some harrowing (if unsurprising) news for us all: If you’re making a request or asking for a favor, doing so face-to-face is the way to go. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Mahdi Roghanizad of Western University and Cornell professor Vanessa Bohns, asking for something IRL is 34 times more effective than asking via text or email.

In the study, 45 people were tasked with asking 10 people each to complete a survey, with half of them asking in person and half asking via email. And while the findings of that 34% differential were consistent with previous studies, there’s an interesting twist: when the participants were asked about how confident they were that they’d get people to take the survey, they reported the same level of confidence—that about 50% would agree to it. Considering the drastically inferior end results, it begged the question of why we feel equally confident about email versus IRL. Bohns reports:

“In our studies, participants were highly attuned to their own trustworthiness and the legitimacy of the action they were asking others to take when they sent their emails. Anchored on this information, they failed to anticipate what the recipients of their emails were likely to see: an untrustworthy email asking them to click on a suspicious link."

Makes sense. But my guess, based exclusively off non-scientific, anecdotal experience? There’s some serious denial going on, too; I’m sure we all know, deep down, that asking for something face-to-face or even over the phone is more effective (*shudders*), and yet we tell ourselves that we’re not reducing our chance at a response via email and text because it’s so much easier. Regardless, the science is in: Looks like if you really want something, you’re gonna have to put pants on, venture out into the world, and go ask for it.

-Deena Drewis

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