New Study Reveals People are More Honest When They Text

Posted by Tristan Barnum on Jun 01, 2012
Do you ever find yourself  mid-phone conversation without a clue what you're saying uh huh to? Do you give vague answers or shy from the truth when a conversation turns awkward? Do you fib or embellish a little to make your conversations more exciting? If you answered yes to any of these, you're not alone!

With all the ways we interact and share information in this digital era, we have developed unwritten etiquette for varying types of social interaction. Norms on one social site may be taboo on another and face-to-face interaction can provoke different emotions than less personal communication like email, but did you ever think one outlet could make you more or less honest than the next? As crazy as it sounds, a recent study from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research shows that this is in fact the case.

So, what makes us spill the beans? A few years ago we might have agreed that a few too many glasses of Pinot Noir would do the trick, but now-a-days it's something more common than happy hour -- it's texting.

Texting while walking

According to the study, in which researchers compared respondents' answers to questions texted to them versus those asked to them in a phone interview, people are more likely to disclose sensitive information via text message.

"This is sort of surprising," Fred Conrad, leading cognitive psychologist in the study says. "Many people thought that texting would decrease the likelihood of disclosing sensitive information because it creates a persistent, visual record of questions and answers that others might see on your phone and in the cloud."

Not only were people more likely to tell the truth via text, they were also found to give more precise answers. Researchers believed this is because with texting, people are not under pressure to give an answer -- there is no one standing in front of them or waiting on the line for a response -- giving them more time to arrive at more accurate answers.

"We're in the early stages of analyzing our findings," says Michael Schober, a professor of psychology involved in the study. "But so far it seems that texting may reduce some respondents' tendency to shade the truth or to present themselves in the best possible light in an interview."

you more honest when texting? Voxox minds want to know if you're more candid on one form of communication versus another!  Comment here or post on our Facebook page -- no fibbing!
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