Text, lies and video tape: People likely to lie when texting!

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2011, 14:08 PM IST

Los Angeles: People are more likely to lie when texting and most honest in video chats, says a new study.

Researchers at University of British Columbia have found that people are more likely to lie via text compared to face-to-face communications, video-conferencing or audio chat, the `Los Angeles Times` reported.

They have based their findings on an assessment after an experiment involving 140 students who were grouped into pairs and asked to engage in a role-playing game. One student took on role of a stockbroker, the other student played a buyer.

The researchers told the "stockbroker" that the stock they had to sell would lose 50 per cent of its value in one week. They also gave the "stockbroker" a financial incentive to sell as much of the bad stock to the "buyer" as possible.

The study found that the stockbrokers were most likely to engage in duplicitous behaviour -- either lying about quality of the stock, or not mentioning how bad it was -- if they conducted the buy or sell conversation via text message.

The dishonesty generally revolved around lying about the quality of the stock or simply not mentioning how good or bad it was.

Surprisingly, the stockbrokers were most honest about the stock if the conversation occurred through video. In the honesty stakes, video beat face to face conversations and also
audio chat.

The researchers said the dishonest behaviour was largely caused by the "lean media" nature of texting. But the big surprise for researchers came from the
buyers' side. When they asked buyers how angry they were that the stockbroker had lied to them, the researchers found buyers were more furious if they had been lied to via text than if they had been lied to in a face-to-face conversation.

"What we speculated was going on is there is some instant rapport-building, and some quick trust that happens when you talk to someone face to face, and it acts as a buffer and an inoculation -- almost like a vaccine -- against negative
reactions.

"People are still angry or upset if they are lied to face to face, but when they are lied to in the leaner communications, they are more angry," Prof Ronald Cenfetelli at University of British Columbia, who co-authored the study,
was quoted as saying.

The findings are to be published in an upcoming edition of the 'Journal of Business Ethics'.

PTI

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