Damn that darned internet …
Email induced stress investigated for cause
Monday, 18 March 2013 10:00
Previous research has suggested that good management strategies such as filing emails, deleting read emails and keeping email storage down could reduce stress, though A/Prof Rees says these studies were quite mixed. Image: Dean Shareski
LARGE email volumes are contributing to significant stress levels among many academics.
Tell me about it, it’s going to be a long hard slog going through all those Climategate e-mails.
A sample of 114 academic staff from Curtin University completed an anonymous electronic survey that found email management strategy has nothing to do with the amount of email stress a person experiences.
Supervisor of the honors project, Associate Professor Clare Rees says the online survey was used to measure stress and some other key variables that were thought to be predictive of email stress.
“There hasn’t been a lot of research in the area of email stress and psychological predictors and we know how stressful it is [especially in academia] with the amount of email you have to negotiate,” she says.
I am stressed by all the bureaucratic mess we have to endure, the extra paperwork involved in regulation, but then, I am not in academia. If that’s their only worry, well all I have to say, is “go get a real job”.
Detailed questions of demographics, age and number of years in the academic position were asked, followed by a detailed questionnaire about email use.
“We were looking at management strategies, because email has been researched in the past and it was thought that the type of email management strategies someone engages in might contribute to their level of stress,” she says.
Along with details of their email data, survey participants were given a ‘general worry’ measure—the Pen State worry questionnaire.
Or the State Pen, as one scientist Dr Tim Ball suggested of Michael Mann. If I were Mann, I would have more than a ‘general worry’. Well, common sense should then prevail:
Some previous research has suggested that good management strategies such as filing emails, deleting read emails and keeping email storage down could reduce stress, though A/Prof Rees says these studies were quite mixed.
“The most interesting finding of this study was that it was a persons general tendency which was significantly correlated with mail stress, so their email management wasn’t predictive of how stressed out they felt,” A/Prof Rees says.
“It made no difference how well you filed your emails or whether you deleted them, to the level of stress you felt,” she says.
Due to this finding about volume – the number of emails being received and then what needs to be done with them – A/Prof Rees says management (certainly in a university environment) needs to consider the number of emails they are sending to staff.
“The other message here is that it’s not ok just to tell staff to manage their emails better, because we found in this study that it actually doesn’t make any difference, so the best thing we can do is to actually reduce the amount of email traffic,” she says.
“We need to do a lot more research in the area and continue to look at other psychological variables including traits like perfectionism,” A/Prof Rees says.
What, more research? Should have seen that coming. Another ‘pocket-liner’ looking for another funding grant. Reduce the Management levels, e-mails reduced. See, the fix is really quite easy.
Then we have a real internet problem. Our infrastructure and associated services really do have an internet problem that needs to be addressed.
A GROUP of WA cyber security professionals have warned Australia’s critical infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to attack as its systems become digital and more interconnected.
Read it all.