Most of us are guilty of telling a little white lie to our bosses now and again, but there are those among us who will lie more often if the communication is distant. A study by the University of Cologne found that women working from home are more likely to lie to their bosses than men or office workers particularly over email.
The research sought to discover how likely people are to be dishonest over different types of communication – from email to face to face.
The study involved 246 participants – 49 per cent female and 51 per cent male – from a pool of 2,000 students at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Participants were asked to flip a coin four times and then tell researchers what it landed on; if it landed on tails they were given a financial reward.
Julian Conrads and Sebastian Lotz, from Cologne communicated with volunteers in different ways, from face-to-face to anonymous web-based.
“The research reveals that an individual’s lying cost may be affected by social distance concerns,” said Conrads.
They met with volunteers over a range of distances and at different levels of anonymity – including fully open face-to-face conversations, web forms filled out in the lab and web forms filled out at home by volunteers.
They found the more anonymous and the more distant the communication, the more likely someone was to lie about the result of the coin toss.
“This effect seems to be more pronounced for women than men when it comes to lying to the full extent,” the co-author of the study said.
“Women, communicating remotely from home were more likely to report landing on tails for four times compared to men”.
The study was published in the journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics, and concluded that face to face communication was the best way to prevent employees from being dishonest.