LIES ----DAMN LIES ----and E-MAIL!

Recent research suggests that e-mail exchanges build trust more slowly than other forms of communications. — but now at Cornell University a study argues that the opposite should be true, because people are considerably more likely to lie over the phone and in face-to-face conversation than in e-mail.

 For the survey a set of Cornell students kept a week-long communications diary in which they noted the number of conversations and electronic interactions they had, and then counted up the number of lies (defined as attempts to intentionally mislead) they told in each exchanges. . The results: they lied in only 14 percent of e-mail exchanges, compared with 21 percent of instant-message “ conversations “, 27 percent of face-to-face interactions, arid 37 percent of phone conversations. (No word on the propensity to lie in their communications diaries.)

 The study’s authors speculate that people lie more often when they are communicating synchronously—as in face-to-face, instant-message, and telephone chats—because most lies “emerge spontaneously from conversation.” . The authors also suggest that untruths are rarer when people know that an easily accessible record of their falsehoods exists. 1t’ worth noting, however, that the more the study’s subjects used e-mail, the likelier they were to lie while doing so —suggesting that familiarity with a technology may breed deception.


Deception and Design: The Impact of

Communication Technology on Lying Behavior7

Jeffrey T. Hancock, Jennifer Thom-Santelli ,

and Thompson Ritchie, Department of

Communication, Cornel University

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