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Liar: E-mail the most Honest form of Communication

By: Margerry Yuhico

Common Lies

  • We’ll only stay five minutes.
  • I gave [to charity] at the office.
  • I love your new hat/haircut/dressÂ…etc.
  • I’ll call you later/back.
  • You’re not fat.
  • It wasn’t me!
  • I never got the message.
  • I was just kidding.
  • I’m not hungry
  • You look like you’ve lost weight!
  • I swear I won’t tell anyone

We all lie! Don’t deny it. But that’s old news. So what’s new?

According to a new study, people are twice as likely to tell a lie over the phone than e-mail.

Surprised? E-mail seems like it would be an easier medium for lying because of it’s detachment, but Dr. Jeffrey T. Hancock of Cornell, the lead researcher of this study offered two explanations: 1) e-mail leaves a record which makes people cautious of what they write, and senders can be held accountable for every word said. And 2) conversations over e-mail are not instant and most lies are told on the spot.

In Hancock’s study, 30 students kept a truth diary of their communications for a week. Results showed students told lies in 15 percent of e-mails, a third of their phone calls, 25 percent of face-to-face conversations, and 20 percent of instant message conversations.

But other researchers have recorded higher numbers.

Tips on Staying Honest

  • Completely immerse yourself in a truth telling lifestyle. Surround yourself with truth-telling people.
  • Use your senses to detect liars. Researchers have found that people who lie give physical and verbal cues.
  • If someone asks you: “Does this make me look fat?” -be honest, not brutal. If you don’t like it suggest something else.
    And finally, START TELLING THE TRUTH! Don’t have someone tell telemarketers you’re not home when you are, instead tell them you’re not interested.

Dr. Charles Ford, a psychiatrist, professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of “Lies! Lies!! Lies!!!,” said that people tell seven lies an hour counting the lies they tell themselves.

Hancock, whose findings will be presented at a Computer-Human Interaction in Vienna, said his lab is now focusing on which form of interaction is more likely to fool people.

Not all lies are malicious; most are said to protect people’s feelings and to avoid punishment and confrontation. There is such a thing as being too honest. It’s called being brutally honest and hurting your friends’ feelings.

So what have we learned? If you want to get the truth out of someone, instead of trying to beat it out of them, you might want to consider e-mailing rather than calling them up. Chances are they’re less likely to tell you a lie. And not all lies are bad.

0 0 183 11 August, 2004 Lifestyle, News, Tech August 11, 2004

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