Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lying More Common Over Email

Researchers at my home university UMASS Amherst suggest that when we communicate with computers (instant messaging, and e-mail) we are more likely to lie compared to when we speak in person. The reserchers suggest that this has to do with deindividualization. Through the use of technology we grow farther apart, and as a result there is more likelyness to lie. This study really sticks out to me because I cannot say how many people have told me over my university e-mail that they got back to me late because they were sick, or had some other emergency. Here's an e-mail from last week:
"Hey Carm,
endschuldige die späte Antwort, ich war krank und heute ist der erste Tag an dem ich mich besser fühle... "

"Hey Carm"
Sorry for the late answer, I was sick and today is the first day that I feel better..."
I saw him playing drums earlier in the week...

Pink Floyd's Empty Spaces covers this theme quite well. The more technology we buy, and consume, the further it drives up apart. People are more likely to lie via e-mail than text, because it is even less individualized, in that it is not connected to the present time. I wonder if there is a statistical difference between lying via text message, and speaking over the phone?

Zimbler, Mattitiyahu, and Robert S. Feldman. "Liar, Liar, Hard Drive on Fire: How Media Context Affects Lying Behavior." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 41.10 (2011): 2492-507. Print.


  1. I think I'm less likely to lie over email. It's less confrontational and I don't have to see or hear the person's reaction to what I'm saying and so I really have no reason to lie.

  2. that's interesting. You definitely have a lot more time to present information in a favorable way for yourself. that might be part of the reason I like texting