Why We Lie More Over the Phone, and Why TV News Pundits Should Watch Themselves

According to research undertaken on the deceit of lying, we fib more over the phone than by email—perhaps because it can't easily come back to bite us, or maybe because of deeper psychological reasons?

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic worries about what Cornell researcher Jeffrey Hancock's findings might mean for TV news. Hancock discovered that people lie more during real-time interactions, possibly because they're bouncing off one another and don't have time to think up better responses, but that they're even more prone to fibbing when they're not in the same room as the person they're talking to—all of which can relate to talking heads, or pundits, wheeled in to an empty room and patched through by a live link-up.

I'm not so sure about Madrigal's concerns about TV news presenters and talking heads being more inclined to lie. The few media appearances I've made talking about various tech issues have rendered me a paranoid wreck—I check and triple-check everything I'm planning on saying, and am always mindful about off-the-cuff responses potentially being damaging to a brand or person's reputation. The last thing you want is to be hit with a slander lawsuit. But I suppose not everyone is that cautious, nor media-trained—as we see on Twitter every day.

While Twitter is constantly being credited as breaking news hours before mainstream print and broadcast media, I noted an interesting backlash against chinese whispers and out-and-out rumormongering during the UK riots last week. In fact, for the first time, many tweeters were advising their followers to simply watch BBC, Sky or other broadcasters' news reports of the riots, rather than rely on fellow tweeters' forecasts of "it's all kicking off down in X," which turned out to be false.

But back to Hancock's research. He also has something to say about the humble resume, which let's face it, isn't always the most accurate piece of paper we've ever put our names to. As resumes written up on a word-processing program and emailed to a potential employer can't be vetted by your network, it's little wonder that we're more inclined to be truthful on LinkedIn. But hands up who's fudged a few details on LinkedIn? Thought so. [The Atlantic]


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