Text Messages Bring Out The Liar In All of Us

Illustration for article titled Text Messages Bring Out The Liar In All of Us

Next time your date cancels by SMS, be suspicious. Because a new study suggests that people lie more often when they communicate by text compared to face-to-face conversations or speaking on the phone.


The research was carried out on 140 students who were grouped into pairs and asked to engage in role-playing games, reports the LA Times. One student played a stockbroker, the other a buyer. The stockbrokers were told that the stock they had to sell would lose 50% of its value in one week, and they were also given a financial incentive to sell as much of the bad stock to the buyer as as they could.

Guess what? The stockbrokers were more likely to lie about the stock if they sold it via text message, compared to other forms of communication, including face-to-face conversations, video and even audio chats.

It makes sense that people choose to lie via text. It doesn't convey any of the nuances of communication in the way speaking to someone — either via phone, video chat or in real life — does. People can't notice the sweat on your brow via text, or the stutter as you lie through your teeth. Basically, you can get away with it.

Maybe more interesting, though, is that when people were lied to via text, they were more angry than if they'd been lied to in person. The researchers think that even over very short periods of time, people build trust if they're speaking over the phone or in person — and that trust is enough of a buffer to not get so mad when they're lied to.

The upshot? If you're going to lie, don't do it by text. But then, you should already know that. Jerk. [LA Times, Image: another.point.in.time]


If youre a liar by nature, then it probably does make it a little easier in text. For people who make a habit of telling the truth, the format of the message wont matter.

(I dont bother lying. Its too hard to keep track of all the lies, and cover stories to make the first lie credible, etc, so I just tell the truth in the first place. Its just easier to be honest.)