What happens to email replying behavior when people are experiencing email overload? A new study, with a very large N of greater than 2M, from a team from Yahoo! and USC Information Sciences presented at the 24th International World Wide Web Conference digs in and tells us in detail.
“Evolution of Conversations in the Age of Email Overload” [pdf] from Farshad Kooti, Luca Maria Aiello, Mihajlo Grbovic, Kristina Lerman, and Amin Mantrach found at ArXiv.org (via Jeff Pomerantz aka @jpom):
…found that users increased their activity as they received more emails, but not enough to compensate for the higher load. This means that as users became more overloaded, they replied to a smaller fraction of incoming emails and with shorter replies. However, their responsiveness remained intact and may even be faster. Demographic factors affected information overload, too. Older users generally replied to a smaller fraction of incoming emails, but their reply time and length were not impacted by overload as much as younger users. In contrast, younger users replied faster, but with shorter replies and to a higher fraction of emails.
Among other findings in general is that younger, especially male, emailers tend to be more mobile, faster and more terse in their replies (pointing toward messaging behaviors rather than email behavoirs as noted here as among the reasons why email must and will die).
And you can take a planned email break on May 5, 2015 for #noemail Day.