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Researchers at the University of British Columbia have concluded that text messaging leads people to be more deceitful than other modes of communication, including face-to-face interactions and video chat.

“People are communicating using a growing range of methods, from Twitter to Skype,” says professor Ronald Cenfetelli, co-author on the paper. “As new platforms of communication come online, it’s important to know the risks that may be involved.”

The study involved 170 students performing mock stock transactions in one of four ways: face-to-face, video, audio or text chatting.  As part of the experiment, researchers promised cash awards of up to $50 to increase participants’ involvement in the role play.

Here’s more from the study:

‘”Brokers’ were promised increased cash rewards for more stock sales, while ‘buyers’ were told their cash reward would depend on the yet-to-be-determined value of the stock. The brokers were given inside knowledge that the stock was rigged to lose half of its value. Buyers were only informed of this fact after the mock sales transaction and were asked to report whether the brokers had employed deceit to sell their stock.”

Buyers who received information via text messages were 95 per cent more likely to lie than if they had interacted via video, 31 per cent more likely to lie when compared to face-to-face and 18 per cent more likely if the interaction was via audio chat.

“With this in mind, people shopping online using websites like eBay should consider asking sellers to talk over Skype to ensure they are getting information in the most trustworthy way possible,” says Cenfetelli, who studies human-computer interaction in Sauder’s Management Information Systems division.

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