People are more likely to lie through texts than other forms of communication, such as video chats and face-to-face interactions, a new study suggests.
A new study from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia found that people feel more comfortable hiding the truth through texts and those that are lied to this way get the most upset.
The study was conducted among 170 students who participated in role-play scenarios involving the stock market where they took on “buyer” and “broker” roles. The students partnered up in groups of two and were asked to conduct mock stock-sales through one of four different forms of communication: text, audio chat, video chat and face to face.
Researchers promised the students cash awards of up to $50 to increase their involvement in the role play. Here’s how it worked: “Brokers” were promised more money for more stock sales, while “buyers” were told their cash reward would later depend on the determined value of the stock.
However, brokers were given inside knowledge that the stock was rigged to lose half of its value. Buyers were only informed of this after they conducted a mock sales transaction and then were asked if their broker lied to them throughout the selling process.
The researchers then analyzed which forms of communication led to more deception. Buyers who received stock information from their broker via text messages were 95% more likely to report deception than if they had interacted via video and 31% more likely than those that received face to face interactions.
This means that brokers felt more comfortable lying to their partners through text messages. However, what’s interesting to note is that the brokers felt least comfortable lying to buyers through video chat.
“We expected there would be deception through texts, but we didn’t think the most truth would come out of video chat interactions. Video heightened the student broker’s awareness of being scrutinized, so they were more likely to feel under the spotlight and be honest,” study co-author and associate professor Ronald Cenfetelli told Mashable.
In another part of the experiment, deceived buyers were asked to rate their level of anger about being duped. Those that were deceived by text messages were 20% more likely to report feeling angry compared to those that were lied to their faces. They were also 47% more likely to report anger than those deceived in video interactions, and 10% more likely to be upset by lies told via audio chat.
“Rapport-building occurs when talking face to face and that is helped along by eye contact, body language and other factors,” Cenfetelli said. “That helps soften the blow a bit when you find out you’re being lied to. Through text, it’s stripped of emotion and body language, and magnifies the depth of pain.”
Centfelli said this concept can be applied to life outside the study-group scenario: “A company a few years ago laid off a bunch of its employees through email, and the staffers were outraged,” Centefelli said. “Sure, they would have still been upset if the news was given in person, but just looking at the text and knowing they were wronged made the news that much worse.”