For many people, they never lie simply because they are bad liars — mannerisms and nonverbal communication give them away instantly — but, through text messaging, where there is no face-to-face interaction, many are finding it easier to fib a little.
Ryan Martin, a journalism and American studies major at the University of Alabama, admits that she has lied to people in text messages before, simply because it is easier to do than if she were face-to-face with them.
“Lying in a text is easier simply because I have a hard time doing it face-to-face,” Martin said. “I think you have more time to word the lie in a way to make it sound better and it might not always feel like you’re doing something wrong or hurting someone’s feelings because you don’t immediately see their reaction.”
Still, Martin says it is always frustrating to be lied to no matter what the medium is.
According to a recent study, people are more likely to lie when communicating through text messages opposed to other communication mediums such as audio chat, video chat and face-to-face communication.
The study was a joint effort between David Xu, an assistant professor at Wichita State University and Karl Aquino and Ronald Cenfetelli, professors from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.
Xu is the lead author of the study which set up a mock stock transition to study the communication between “brokers” and “buyers.”
Brokers, 170 students from UBC, used different methods of communication to set up scenarios where buyers were lied to.
When brokers were communicating with buyers via text message, buyers were 95% more likely to report being lied to than if they were communicating through video chat.
This number is so high because of the brokers feeling of anonymity and the ability to plan the lie through a text message, Xu said.
“Because of this anonymity there are little to no concerns with making a good appearance to the other party — which is the buyer in this setting — so they are more likely to violate the personal standpoint of honesty,” he said.
“Second is the unique feature of the text message because it provides an opportunity for people to plan the message out in advance,” Xu said. “In contrast, if you want to lie face-to-face you need to think on the spot and it’s very difficult to coordinate your body language with the message you want to convey.”
The study not only focused on the act of lying through different mediums, but also on the reactions of those who had been lied to, Xu said.
“People are more angry when they have been lied to in a text message than if they’ve been lied to in face-to-face conversations,” he said.
One reason for this is that in a text message communication is black and white, leaving very “little chance for misinterpretation,” Xu said.
Also, text messages prevent people from creating personal connections based on facial expression, eye contact, body language and handshakes, Xu said.
“This connection is a buffer against the reaction to any deceitful behavior,” he said. “People are more likely to forgive people who have offended them if the offender was likeable.”
To find out more about the results of the study, look for it in March’s edition of the Journal of Business Essays.
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