Texting is usually a speedy affair. Eloquence and grammar are thrown out in favor of brevity and emoticons. Which is why, when your text partner suddenly begins to delay on his or her responses, you may experience a gut sensation that something is amiss. And perhaps you’ve been there yourself: someone asks you a question you’re less than pleased about—”Where were you last night?”—and you suddenly fumble, taking a moment to concoct a believable excuse.
Those slight delays, new research shows, are indeed a giveaway of a possible text-delivered lie. The pauses may indicate your partner is thinking up a fake story, editing her response to make it seem more believable or just feeling awkward about the situation. Mashable explains how researchers came to these conclusions:
The Brigham Young researchers reached their conclusions by having some 100 students answer a string of questions using a chatbot designed for the test. The students were asked to lie in half their responses. After collecting 1,572 deceitful and 1,590 truthful chat-based responses, researchers found the false responses took 10 percent longer to create and were edited more than the honest messages.
Past studies have shown that people tend to lie more often through texts than in face-to-face interactions or phone calls. This isn’t so surprising, since—thanks to that wall of electronic indifference separating you and your conversation partner—texted lies seem to be easier to get away with. In person, pesky things like eye contact may give you away, while a shady tone or a tremor in the voice can send red alerts on a phone call. And yet we’re still abysmal at recognizing when we’re being lied to. Although the average person tells two lies per day, Mashable points out, we only have about a 50-50 chance of correctly calling out a lie when we’re on the receiving end.
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