Does Email Make You Lie More?

from the just-a-little-bit dept

Does a more impersonal means of communication make it easier to... stretch the truth? Apparently, a new study found that people tend to lie more in email when compared to a written note (paper?!? pens?!?). The study involved people being given a pool of money and asked to divide it with someone else, who they could communicate with either via email or via written note. While pretty much everyone lied about the total amount of money, those who communicated over email lied by even bigger amounts. The writeup doesn't really suggest why this is, but it makes you wonder what factors could be involved. People often talk about how sitting at a keyboard can make people "mean," but they usually attribute it to the anonymity factor. However, could the "coldness" of typed words feel less personal as well?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 6:46pm

    I try harder to be truthful and accurate on the Internet. Your words could be immortalized forever in print, esp. since there are Internet archiving sites now. Even if you redact what you wrote, it can still come back to bite you on the ass. So I try very, very hard to make sure that what I'm typing is really what I want to say, and how I want to say it. I don't always succeed but I think that my success rate is much higher on the Internet than it is in real life.

     

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

  2.  
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    Matt McMurry, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 7:04pm

    Bad title

    Email can't MAKE you lie more, neither can sitting at a keyboard MAKE people mean, you choose that yourself. Badly titled article, but interesting content anyway.

     

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

  3.  
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    Anonymous, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 7:04pm

    Good argument to require ethics in MBA courses.

    "All the experimentees lied about how much money they had been given (no great surprise, as they were all MBA students...)"

    Note to self: Never hire an MBA, they are ALL liars.

     

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  4.  
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    Larry Mc, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 8:07pm

    I have always told my employees if you don't want something read or repeated don't put it in an e-mail. A part time employee explained away her no-show/no call absense with an e-mail describing her spending three days at the hospital bedside of her comatose daughter who had fallen during a session of playing "pyramid" at her church youth group.This following a medevac helicopter ride. Niether was difficult to disprove. The State Labor Board denied her wrongful dismissal claim based on that e-mail.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 11:14pm

    Weird

    I wouldn't lie about that, nobody in my family would lie, I doubt any of my close friends would lie. I don't know if my sample is skewed, or theirs is.

    Either way, MBAs suck.

     

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  6.  
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    Benjamin Wright, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 7:25am

    gotcha!

    Today lying is more risky than it was in the past. Reason: innumerable little records (e-mail, IM, PC metadata, cell phone records, social network interactions, credit card transactions and on and on and on) are documenting our lives. All these digital footprints are potentially discoverable in an investigation. Honesty is the catchword of the digital age. --Ben http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2007/11/instant-message-retention-e-discovery.html

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 8:36am

    Re: Weird

    And neither would I, my family, or my friends. In fact, in email we try even harder to ensure that what we write is right, and can't be misinterpreted.

    The study sample population is apparently dishonest, and typing just lets them be dishonest faster.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    I'm sorry, I don't understand this story:

    I have always told my employees if you don't want something read or repeated don't put it in an e-mail. A part time employee explained away her no-show/no call absense with an e-mail describing her spending three days at the hospital bedside of her comatose daughter who had fallen during a session of playing "pyramid" at her church youth group.This following a medevac helicopter ride. Niether was difficult to disprove. The State Labor Board denied her wrongful dismissal claim based on that e-mail.

    Are you saying that she was in a helicopter ride with her daughter that was in a coma after the accident? Or just joyriding? This example confuses me.

     

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

  9.  
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    Bill Clinton, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 1:34pm

    Let Me Tell You

    I did not have sex with that woman, Ms Lewinsky.

    Oh, you mean I have to say it on television - I can't email it?

     

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

  10.  
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    Nappies, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 3:17pm

    It's always been this way

    People will always lie, whatever the media.

     

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  11.  
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    steveballmer, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 9:08pm

    NO!

    It makes us craft our words better,

     

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  12.  
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    Debbie Blevins, Sep 27th, 2008 @ 10:55pm

    Lying

    Know how to tell if I am lying? My mouth is moving.

     

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

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2008 @ 1:37am

    Re:

    The world you speak of becomes much more complicated when you work for someone who has the ability to issue "Security Letters".

    So yes, be careful of what you say, otherwise, the receiving side may actually believe http://www.PenIsland.net truly sells something more interesting than pens.

    But what would you know if you never visited yourself? After all, it is Pen Island, you sicko.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2008 @ 3:24am

    Re: NO!

    Hey, your back!

    What do you think about the ZunePhone. Really, now. Is this going to be a break through device or is it going to be based on a SUCK spec HTC design?

    Help me out here...

     

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

  15.  
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    Triatomic Tortoise, Sep 28th, 2008 @ 6:25am

    Re: MBA???

    From Anonymous: "Note to self: Never hire an MBA, they are ALL liars".

    That is quite interesting. Why should we believe YOU? And how did MBA education contributed to their behavior? Did you get or try to get one of those qualifications?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2008 @ 7:17am

    Re:

    I agree, Rose. Knowing how often e-mail correspondence is used to "CYA" in an office setting (not to mention as evidence in a legal case), I am very careful to construct my e-mails as accurately and succinctly as possible. Working in a law firm for many years taught me that and it's a lesson I don't ever want to lose.

     

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  17.  
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    Keira, Sep 28th, 2008 @ 1:55pm

    Re: gotcha!

    True.....true.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2008 @ 5:34pm

    Hand-written notes may be implicitly perceived as directly to someone to whom one has a closer relationship than email. Ergo, less lying.

    Should investigate whether affinity for other party moderates this relationship.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    writing pen, May 6th, 2011 @ 6:30pm

    I agree with this title!

     

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


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