E-signatures seen as Less Trustworthy than Hand Signatures

By Gizbot Bureau

Signing your loan application with an e-signature may lower your chances of getting it approved! E-signatures are considered to be less convincing and trustworthy than traditional hand signatures, scientists say.

Documents signed electronically evoke strikingly different - and significantly more negative - psychological reactions than those with traditional hand signatures, scientists have found.

Advanced technology allows people to sign a document by entering a PIN or inserting a software-generated signature. Eileen Chou, an assistant professor at the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, conducted a series of controlled laboratory experiments to establish a causal relationship between how a document is signed and people's reactions to the document.

E-signatures seen as Less Trustworthy than Hand Signatures

Participants were randomly assigned to review a travel reimbursement, mortgage application, or leasing contract that had been signed either by hand or electronically (by entering the signer's name), 'Live Science' reported.

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They were then asked to rate their overall reaction to the document without focusing on any particular aspect of it. People trusted the value of e-signatures significantly less than that of traditional hand signatures, citing as their main reason the sense that e-signers were less involved and committed.

In other words, e-signatures felt artificial and robotic. The researchers expanded their investigation to include four types of e-signatures in common use: PIN, avatar, checked box, or software-generated signature. Results showed that reviewers found these common types of e-signatures to be less convincing and trustworthy than traditional hand signatures.

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They were deemed less valid, required more scrutiny and possessed less legal value. Software-generated signatures, however - which were perceived as more involved - fared better than the others types of e-signatures. The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Source: PTI

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