Lies, Damn Lies And Telephone Calls

from the email-as-truth-serum dept

You would think that, if someone needed to tell a lie, they'd prefer to do so over email, where they wouldn't let their voice betray them. However, a new study says that people are more likely to lie over the telephone than over email. Amazingly, email-based lies were at the bottom of the list. People told the most lies over the telephone, the second most face-to-face, followed up by instant messages and email last. Maybe that's why people are trying to fight parking tickets via the phone. Apparently, there's just something truthful about email. The basic theory by the researcher, though, is that people tell lies by voice because there's no record of what they said - and it can vanish into thin air and be disputed later. They also lie more during live conversations because they're put on the spot and don't have time to think through a good answer. That certainly makes some amount of sense. Of course, the other theory (which I like best) is that the subjects for this study lied in giving their results...


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    thecaptain, Feb 12th, 2004 @ 6:55am

    I've always wondered...

    How can you have a valid study about lying when there's no real way to tell if the people who are part of the study are telling the truth?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2004 @ 7:51am

    Phone Vs Email

    Also remember the line in "Boiler Room": Remember, over the phone you can be ANYONE.

    On the phone, you can decide quickly who you need to be pretty quickly: the president of a company, the technical support guy, etc. Lying about who you are over email can be done, but it takes a bit of set-up and some technical effort not everyone has.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Jean, Feb 12th, 2004 @ 10:17am

    Lies and Damn Lies

    You seem to have totally forgotten about all the lies told by our president and his administration right in front of the TV cameras. But then, he can barely read so it's unlikely that he'd actually write any of his lies down on paper.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    LittleW0lf, Feb 12th, 2004 @ 5:41pm

    No Subject Given

    Apparently, there's just something truthful about email. The basic theory by the researcher, though, is that people tell lies by voice because there's no record of what they said - and it can vanish into thin air and be disputed later.

    I think this hit the nail squarely on the head. Phone calls and face-to-face communication is transitory, unless it is stored (and it is against the law to store either without first obtaining the permission of one or both of the communicators.) An email is not transitory (unless you are using Microsoft Outlook or Exchange, then it may or may not be transitory because of the "recall" capability, if you send it only to folks who use Exchange and Outlook,) so there is a written record of the transaction, which can be verified in the future.

    Plus, it is easier to hold something written in email over someone's head than it is a phone call, since and email can be redistributed easily. I've seen some of my emails sent to a boss end up being forwarded (without my permission,) to everyone at the company despite the fact that the communication was only supposed to be between myself and my boss (over minor health issues I was having at the time.) Even though I had no intention, or need, to lie to him at the time; had I known better, I would have called him (so he could tell others in person the basics, and not splash all the details throughout the company.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2004 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Lies and Damn Lies

    > You seem to have totally forgotten about all the lies told by our president

    I KNOW. I couldn't believe when he wagged his finger and said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." And THEN he lied under oath. Then there those lies by Dean about that rape story he fabricated. And Kerry is having his own bimbo eruption, so we can expect more lying from him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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