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Text Messages: Are They Telling the Truth or Are they Lying?

Update Date: Sep 06, 2013 04:03 PM EDT

As our society continues to move toward a more digital world, direct communication using our own mouths has dwindled. Now, instead of calling your parents or friends to talk about something that has happened, people choose to text. Even though texting can be so simple and fast, it can also lead to miscommunication since people cannot interpret moods or emotions based solely on words on a screen.  This then allows people to lie to one another a lot more easily today than ever before. In a new study, researchers tackled that issue and found certain cues that people can use to determine if they are being lied to via text.

In this study, the research team from Brigham Young University (BYU) enlisted the help of over 100 college students. The students were given 30 questions that were randomly generated by the computer. Each question was texted to the students. For half of the responses, the researchers had instructed the student to lie. The researchers analyzed response time and discovered that when the students lied, it took them about 10 percent longer to respond. The researchers also found that when students were lying, they made more edits in their text messages than usual.

Despite this find, the researchers acknowledged that jumping to conclusions that someone is lying could also be highly detrimental for social relationships. If two people are having a conversation that is moving back and forth at a quick pace and a pause in the conversation, especially after a hard question is asked occurs, people might assume that their partners are concocting ways to lie. Once the person answers, the text could be perceived as a lie since the person took so long to answer. However, in some cases, something might have actually come up that prevented the person from responding on time. The assumption of a lie then could harm a relationship.

In order to limit one's suspicions, it is probably best to keep important conversations at a more personal level and do them in person. The press release can be found here and the study was published in ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems.

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