Study shows texting makes for easier lying

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The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia just wrapped up a study with 170 students. They set up a mock stock market, where one group was set up as stock brokers, and others as stock buyers. The brokers were offered a cash incentive to sell their stock, even though some were informed that the stock would bomb. The buyers were informed that their stock would lose half its value after they bought it, but how did the brokers sell it? The liars were 95% more likely to use text message than video, 31% more than face-to-face, and 18% more than audio call.

It’s not entirely surprising to see text messaging being a prime choice to conduct nefarious deception, but I think the clearer message from the study here is that video chat actually has a fair bit of value for keeping people honest. There are some obvious implications there for businesses, but it’s easy to imagine video chat holding a lot of potential for tech support; by the same token, I think customers would have a much harder time yelling at someone on the other end if they had to look them in the eyes.

If you’d like to see the full results of the study, it’ll be going into the Journal of Business Ethics in March.

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