What's in a name? The toll e-signatures take on individual honesty November 2015 By Eileen Chou What's in a name? The toll e-signatures take on individual honesty What's in a name? The toll e-signatures take on individual honesty People cherish and embrace the symbolic value that their unique handwritten signature holds. Technological advances, however, have led organizations to reject traditional handwritten signatures in favor of the efficiency and convenience of e-signatures. This research directly investigates the possibility that while many common e-signatures may objectively perform the same function as signing by hand, they do not exert the same symbolic weight in subsequent decision making. Seven studies consistently demonstrate these e-signatures’ ineffectiveness for curbing individual dishonesty—one of the essential purposes of a signature Furthermore, the effects are caused by their inadequate ability to evoke the signer’s self-presence. Results also identify one form of e-signature that can preserve this crucial psychological connection. Meta-analyses across studies conducted for this research establish the reliability and robustness of the associations between common forms of e-signatures, self-presence, and dishonesty. By systematically examining whether, why, and which e-signatures abet cheating, findings illuminate an unexplored—but critical—consequence of a practice that is prevalent worldwide. Purchase from ScienceDirect Areas of focus Ethics 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.