A recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia suggests that people are more likely to lie in text messages than they are using other forms of communication. The study was conducted with 170 students using face-to-face, via video, audio, and text message communications, and took the form of a role-playing game. Students were asked to take the roles of either brokers trying to sell stock, or consumers being asked to buy stocks, and the participants were offered cash rewards of up to $50 to engage in the game -- brokers for selling the stocks, and buyers based on an unrevealed value of the stock.
The students acting as brokers were told that stocks would lose half of its value before pitching the sales to buyers, while the buyers were not informed of this fact until after the communications had taken place. Buyers then reported back to the researchers to determine if and how often they had been lied to. The results of the study showed that the brokers were 95 percent more likely to lie via text than video, 31 percent more likely compared to face-to-face, and 18 percent compared to audio communication. So what do the results suggest? First, that video communication increased the feeling of being scrutinized, resulting in far more honest communications, while texting lies at the exact opposite of that spectrum. It's perhaps unsettling but not surprising -- after all, how many times have you told a white lie via text to get out of doing something simply because you didn't feel like it? Interestingly, the study also found that people are more angered when they are deceived by what are called "leaner" media -- texts and audio as opposed to more direct, face-to-face communications.