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Stroppy emails make you sick: official

Inbox open, blood pressure up

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Boffins at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College have proven what Reg readers doubless already know - that aggresive emails are bad for your health.

The eggheads monitored volunteers as they opened their inboxes, finding that threatening missives - or those from a work superior - raised the guinea pigs' blood pressure alarmingly.

Interestingly, even a perfectly reasonable email from the boss seemed sufficient to induce semi-panic, and a written ear-bashing eminating from management constituted the biggest health threat. "Although participants' blood pressure rose to some degree after reading the threatening email and the e-mail from a superior, the highest increase was seen in those reading an e-mail which was both threatening and from a higher status colleague," noted researcher Howard Taylor.

This pretty obvious conclusion indicates that the use of email - by virtue of its impersonality and distance - encourages people to vent their spleen uninhibited by the social norms which govern other forms of communication.

So, if giving someone some stick over the phone might earn you an earful back, or mouthing off to a person's face could result in a slap, sending an email has neither of these immediate and undesirable consequences.

The Vulture Central mailbox pretty well confirms this - the worst offenders being those obstreperous correspondants using pseudonymous Hotmail addresses to transmit vitriol through the ether with impunity.

None of which affects our blood pressure of course: Reg hacks have nerves of steel and livers of iron. This is, however, cold comfort to those poor souls who are increasingly afraid to open their inboxes at all. As Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University puts it: "E-mail is not a social support for us anymore - it's more like a source of stress."

So, angry people and bosses take note: it costs nothing to be polite and if you can't say it to a person's face, it's probably better not to hit that send button at all. ®

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