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Letters: Face-to-face offers more reassurance
posted on: 2012-04-25 11:49:22

Have you ever wondered if all your text messaging is doing anything towards relationship building? Do you miss those good old days when people talked to each other on the phone or better still face-to-face?

Before you chalk up texting as the way of the future you should take note of an interesting study conducted by social anthropologist Leslie Seltzer from the University of Wisconsin in the US. Seltzer studied 64 teenage girls who were put into a stressful situation. Then one third of these girls were comforted by their mother’s voice in person, one third on the phone and the last by text (

The first two groups experienced a reduction in the stress hormone oxytocin and cortisol. The last group showed no measurable differences.

While the experiment focused on a familiar voice (mum’s), it is not a great stretch to ask whether any human voice would have a similar affect. While that question may be the focus of future studies, Dr Seltzer’s conclusion was that  “People still need to interact the way we were evolved to interact”.

One of the key benefits to our exhibition visitors is the ability to network in a face-to-face environment. It is a benefit we know well and continue to promote. This research confirms there is more to face-to-face than a good business meeting. It also says that it can have a direct affect on the business relationship, which improves when people feel better about the interaction.

I am not sure this study has any practical implications for change in the way we operate our exhibitions. I just thought it was interesting enough for all of us to file away for a time when we are wondering whether face-to-face still has relevance in an online world.

–  Barry Siskind is the community manager for UFI.