Apparently, when you receive emails from people, they're generally not lying more than they'd be lying liars in any other setting.
Is Your Date Lying?
Brought to you by Laura Schaefer and Match.com!
Have you ever wondered if the scintillating e-mail exchanges you've been enjoying with a new romantic interest are completely honest? After all, the sender is comfortably hidden behind a computer screen...What's to stop a person from saying "I'm all about serious relationships" when he or she is really just out for fun?
Well, one researcher wants to put your mind to rest. According to Dr. Jeff Hancock, assistant professor at Cornell University, people are actually more truthful when they are communicating via e-mail than they are in person. Hancock and his fellow researchers came to these surprising findings after asking subjects to record all of their communications--including face-to-face, phone, e-mail, and instant messaging--for one week, including how often they lied. The results showed that 14 percent of e-mails included some form of deception--unsettling for sure, but a far cry from the slew of inaccuracies uttered elsewhere. In-person conversations featured fibs 27 percent of the time, while a whopping 37 percent of all phone calls were riddled with untruths.
So why does e-mail turn us into such a (relatively) honest bunch? "E-mail is highly recordable--people at Enron learned this the hard way--so lots of lies are not very smart in e-mail," Hancock explains. Case in point: Despite its similarity to e-mail, instant messages are rarely saved, most people believe, and so IM's contained more lies (21 percent) than e-mails.
Whether or not the communication is immediate is also a factor. "Many lies are spontaneous," Hancock observes. "Because e-mail doesn't happen in 'real time,' these types of spontaneous lies are unlikely to happen."
Laura Schaefer is the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time. She never tells lies over e-mail because she suspects her hostile laptop would punish her.
I had a friend who was a pathological liar.
She smoked us all the time on everything, in hindsight. Her entire life communicated as a giant fiction which she spontaneously weaved. She pulled two monster fibs. Both the university and a job she often mixed into details of conversation, in fact, proved completely untrue. What made the job laughable in hindsight was that she claimed to have worked at Hooters, yet her figure suggested a few extra pounds and high improbability for holding a juggy-job. The fibs appeared seamless because of the equal level of detail she put into truths and lies. She sold her stories well.
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