That Text Message Could Be Full of Lies

It may not have the serious consequences of texting while driving, but as many of Tiger Woods’ lady friends will attest, people lie more when texting, according to a new study by the University of British Columbia.

The study from the Sauder School of Business compared the level of deceit people employ when they use various forms of media.  The research proved people find it harder to lie to someone’s face.

In the research, 170 students performing phony stock transactions used four methods of communication: face-to-face talking, or by video, audio or text chatting.

The “brokers” could earn up to $50 to close the deal. Brokers were promised increased cash rewards for more stock sales, while “buyers” were told their cash reward would depend on the yet-to-be-determined value of the stock.One caveat was that the “brokers” knew the stock would not perform well.

Via texting, 95 percent of buyers reported being misled or lied to, versus 31 percent more likely to report deception when compared to face-to-face, and 18 percent more likely if the interaction was by audio chat.

Another interesting aspect is that people were more angry when they were the victims of manipulation by text, a so-called “leaner” media, than video chat, which is considered a richer media.

The study’s authors say this information is important because communicators will want to take the means they are sending messages into consideration, along with the content of those messages when conducting their outreach.

The Journal of Business Ethics will publish the study in March.