People are more truthful in text messages: Study

A new study has shown that people are more likely to tell the truth in text messages than they are in phone calls.

About 600 iPhone-users were recruited for the study conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

The researchers then asked them the same questions depending on different variables to see whether their responses were the same.

The questions were asked via text and voice, human and computer and differing environments.

Among the questions that respondents answered more honestly via text than speech were 'In a typical week, about how often do you exercise?' and 'During the past 30 days, on how many days did you have five or more drinks on the same occasion.'

Fred Conrad, a cognitive psychologist and director of the Program in Survey Methodology at the university said in a report that they believed text messaging yielded more precise answers because there was less time pressure as compared to a phone interview. "Respondents are able to take longer to arrive at more accurate answers," he said.

With text, researchers also found that people were less likely to give easy answers, for example rounding to mulitples of 10 in numerical responses.

However, Conrad found this results surprising, given 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".

Researchers also found that people are more likely to provide more honest responses through text messages even when in busy, distracting environments

"This is the case even though people are more likely to be multi-tasking," Conrad said.

rchia@sph.com.sg

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