Use Text Messages to Get More Truth from Your Peers

by Chris Curley on May 18, 2012

People are more truthful and direct when using text messages compared to other forms of communication, a new study finds.

In addition, people are more likely to disclose sensitive information and are more precise in their responses to questions in text messages than voice interviews, says researcher Fred Conrad, Ph.D., a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

“This is sort of surprising, since many people thought 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,’” Conrad says.

Texting gives people more time to form detailed responses, but also appears to make people consider the impact of their words more carefully, and less likely to “shade the truth,” says study co-author Michael Schober, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the New School for Social Research.

Texters tended to be more truthful even when distracted by activities like shopping and walking while they multi-tasked, the authors say.

The research will be presented in May 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in Orlando, Fla.

(Photo © Alton via Wikimedia Commons)