Mt. Vernon Register-News

CNHI Special Projects

April 29, 2013

Need a reply fast? Email someone unhappy

Friendly, upbeat people are a pleasure to work with - except when they don't reply to your emails.

The engineers at Contactually, a referral marketing platform, analyzed more than 100 million email conversations and found something surprising. People who tend to use positive, upbeat language in their messages - like "care" and "amazing" - only respond to 47 percent of their emails within 24 hours. Those who more frequently use negative words, like "missed" and "stupid," respond to a healthy 64 percent of messages within a day. That's 36 percent more than their shiny happy counterparts.

It isn't immediately clear why this should be the case. My first thought was that negative emails take less time to write. I can say, "Sorry, not interested" in 10 seconds, whereas crafting an encouraging response takes a little more time (not to mention willpower). But Contactually co-founder Tony Cappaert told me that doesn't seem to fully explain the trend. Negative people's subject lines averaged 23 characters, just 8 percent fewer than positive people's 25-character average.

"Maybe the negative folks are more active online in general," Cappaert's colleague Jeff Carbonella speculated in a press release about the study. "Sort of explains Internet trolls, doesn't it?"

Or maybe the causality works the other way, and people who spend all day replying to emails end up bitter and snippy.

The study wasn't peer-reviewed and isn't likely to be published in Nature anytime soon. Still, the huge sample size suggests there's at least something to the findings.

               

Oremus is the lead blogger for Future Tense, reporting on emerging technologies, tech policy and digital culture.

               



 

1
Text Only
CNHI Special Projects
  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks