Cornell study solves the riddle of email vs text vs phone

Whatever you do, don’t email.

Or text.

That is, if you want someone to actually help you.

A new research paper finds that in-person communication is the most successful way to get the assistance you need. Should that not be an option, a phone call or video call are second best.

“In-person requests were 67% more effective than audio and video calls in one study,” Cornell University associate professor Vanessa Bohns, who wrote the paper with Ryerson University assistant professor M. Mahdi Roghanizad, explains in an email to Fast Company. “In another study, video and audio requests were 86% more effective than email requests.”

In their write-up, they also explain that the participants in their studies underestimate the effectiveness of in-person communication.

“We didn’t compare in-person to email in that paper, but did in an earlier paper with requests made of strangers (rather than friends, as in this study),” Bohns added. “In that study, we found in-person requests were 34 times more effective than email requests.”

Participants in the new study asked 1,490 respondents for help proofreading a half-page of text.

The research was published in the November issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.