You’ve heard the stories of people sending embarrassing text messages where they say something they normally wouldn’t or send a risqué picture that they later regret. According to new research, its actually a quantifiable phenomenon: people are more honest in text messages then in voice conversations. The study, which was carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, will be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.
Among the differences is how people text message compared to voice talking, the study points to “satisficing”; the term meaning giving easy answers, rounding off, and not thinking too much about what responses are given. In text messages people are less likely to give satisficing answers, as compared to voice conversations. In fact, the very obvious factor that influences how honest people are, is that in text people have more time to think about their answers. This time translates to more honesty.
This revelation naturally brings many followup questions such as who is more likely to be honest. The study did not look into whether respondents are frequent text-senders, or older versus younger people. Text messaging itself may result in more honesty, but there is still a long list of factors to be measured before we fully understand the behavior differences from one style of communication to the other.
Text messaging is the preferred method of communication among teens and 20 year olds in Europe and North America today. Not surprisingly, research also reveals that people who text are more likely to be honest and thoughtful in their answers, even when in very distracting environments like shopping malls or sports stadiums. You condemn those people with their face buried in the phone, but to their credit, they’re probably being more honest than usual.
Source: Earth Sky
Photo: Kurt Christensen / flickr