Want a truthful answer from someone?
Try asking the question over text.
New research from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research shows that people are more willing to be candid when they are texting, compared with when they’re speaking out loud.
“This is sort of surprising since many people thought that texting would decrease the likelihood of disclosing sensitive information because it creates a persistent, visual record of questions and answers that others might see on your phone and in the cloud,” study researcher Fred Conrad, cognitive psychologist and director of the UM Program in Survey Methodology, said in a statement.
The researchers also found that texting prompted people to be more precise in their answers, and to be less likely to give broad, “good enough” answers.
The study included 600 people who used iPhones who were recruited through Craigslist, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Google Ads. The study participants were given iTunes Store awards in return for participating in the study. The researchers asked them a number of questions to see whether they answered them more honestly and/or precisely over text instead of voice.
They found that the study participants were more likely to give honest answers via text in response to these questions:
- In a typical week, about how often do you exercise?
- During the past 30 days, on how many days did you have five or more drinks on the same occasion?
And the study participants were more likely to give precise answers to these questions:
- During the last month, how many movies did you watch in any medium?
- How many songs do you currently have on your iPhone?
The research will be presented at the American Association for Public Opinion Research, and was funded by the National Science Foundation.
What do you think? Do you think you’re more truthful when you’re talking over text message, or when you’re talking to someone over the phone or face-to-face? Tell us in the comments!