Tonto Dikeh has revealed that in as much as she loves a good joystick and all that she could gain from having one by her side, there is no way in this life and the next that she would choose that over a man with […]
Imagine you’re drafting an email about a sensitive project when you realize you need to keep your supervisor in the loop. You decide to Bcc her on the email. Later, the rest of the team finds out. How does this make them feel?
Email continues to be one of the most common ways people communicate at work — and one of the most common ways people mis-communicate at work. The Cc and Bcc functions can corrode trust and cloud intentions. To explore how senders and recipients interpret the use of these tools, we conducted a series of five experimental studies in which a total of 694 working adults participated.
In our first study, we wanted to explore how people perceive the use of Bcc relative to the use of Cc. We invited working adults (75 females and 41 males; average work experience of 10.75 years) via the online system Prolific Academic (ProA), which has earned a reputation of providing a high level of data quality. Participants were presented with either one of two work-related situations that described a situation in which their coworker sent the participant an email including their supervisor in either Bcc or Cc. Participants then had to evaluate the work situation presented on a number of measures. This study revealed that people consider Bcc-ing a supervisor as less moral, more secretive, and more intimidating than Cc-ing a supervisor.
In a second study, we set out to uncover the reasons people choose to use Bcc in the first place. With this study, we hoped to understand when people do not view the use of Bcc as immoral or deceptive — when they’re more likely to use it. In this survey, we mentioned to our participants (recruited via ProA; 34 females and 24 males; average work experience of 17.38 years) that much communication in organizations takes place via email. In these email exchanges people sometimes use the Bcc option. We then asked participants to share what they thought were valid reasons for people using Bcc. The reason they most frequently cited was “administrative reasons” (for example, to “update the supervisor in such a way that they know their reply to the email is not required” or not wanting to “share the contact information of the supervisor and run the risk that the supervisor will be contacted directly”).
In two subsequent studies (participants were recruited again via ProA), we tested whether these two “administrative” explanations would soften recipients’ negative perceptions of the sender. Participants in these two experiments were connected in…