Kruger, Epley, Parker & Ng, 2005 – ” Egocentrism over e-mail: Can…”
Egocentric bias is an inescapable fact of most forms of communication, with no exception for electronic forms like email and text messaging. The absence of facial cues, body language gestures, and vocal tones in such correspondence puts substantial weight on what one can communicate in words alone – and the message sent isn’t always what the sender imagined. Indeed, it seems, subtleties such as sarcasm are more difficult to convey reliably than one may intuit.
Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng’s studies in this paper highlight several forms of this issue: their first several studies listed indicate an appreciably lower chance that the recipient of a sarcastic email will understand it as such than was predicted by the writers of those emails.
In their subsequent studies, the authors also assess the question of whether egocentricism is itself to blame in their observations. For instance, exposing the message-writing study participants to unfamiliar phenomonology by asking them to listen to a recording of themselves saying the message aloud before sending it.
Admittedly, the study isn’t all-conclusive; the specific subtleties chosen (particularly sarcasm) may not necessarily be hampered in the same degree or manner by egocentricism as others, and there may not be sufficient evidence to attribute the results exclusively to egocentric bias; however, Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng acknowledge these likelihoods, and present their observations with particular respect to their generalizability. Given the data available, Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng offer strong grounds to further explore the relationship between egocentric bias and electronic miscommunications.