Paperless and soulless. E-signatures diminish the signer’s presence and decrease acceptance Mar 13, 2015 By Eileen Chou Paperless and soulless. E-signatures diminish the signer’s presence and decrease acceptance Paperless and soulless. E-signatures diminish the signer’s presence and decrease acceptance E-signatures are one of the fastest growing global practices because of their convenience. Much less is known, however, about whether people perceive e-signatures to be symbolically equivalent to traditional hand signatures. Results of four studies demonstrate that although functionally the same, e-signatures evoked markedly different psychological reactions than hand signatures. Namely, e-signatures evoked a weaker sense of the signer’s presence and involvement. This weaker sense of social presence, in turn, induced negativity: People were more likely to discount the validity of an e-signed application than that of an identical application signed by hand. They also anticipated that e-signed contracts would lead to greater likelihood of contract breaches. This negativity toward e-signatures persisted across five different types of e-signatures, regardless of an individual’s level of comfort with technology. Taken together, the studies reveal deeply rooted psychological reactions to a practice that is now prevalent worldwide. Social Psychological and Personality Science Areas of focus Social Psychology Eileen Chou Chou’s research focuses on the organizational, social, and psychological forces that shape individual and group behavior in organizational settings. Read full bio Related Content Eileen Chou The Goldilocks Contract: The Synergistic Benefits of Combining Structure and Autonomy for Persistence, Creativity, and Cooperation Research Contracts are commonly used to regulate a wide range of interactions and relationships. Yet relying on contracts as a mechanism of control often comes at a cost to motivation. Safety in Numbers: Why the Mere Physical Presence of Others Affects Risk‐taking Behaviors Research As social mammals, being in a group signals a state of relative security. Risk‐taking behavior in other social mammals formed the basis for our prediction that the mere physical presence of others, absent any social interaction, would create a psychological state of security that, in turn, would promote greater risk‐taking behavior.