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People Treat Email Like Testimony. [Nov. 26th, 2005|07:45 am]
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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.


[User Picture]From: chanharrison
2005-11-26 04:01 pm (UTC)
my dad always told me to be a good liar you have a to have a tremendous memory and be able to remember all your lies thus you get caught because my memory is not quite that good i never became a liar... when my memory improves i might consider the career move but until then I am out..
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-11-26 04:05 pm (UTC)
Most people aren't great with memory.

They do, however, combine the web with an excellent delivery, one filled with confidence and emotion.
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From: zboson
2005-11-26 11:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree.

Once I had a boyfriend who was like this. He was definitely pathological, lying about things he wouldn't have any reason to lie about in the first place. He pretended to have a job, at one time, going to "work" every day and coming home in the evening with stories about his day at "work". It was so weird. After a while I caught him, because how do you think you're going to fool somebody forever with something like that? Anyway, he lied about stupid stuff, too. He made up stories about his adventures in Scotland. Later I found out from his family that he'd never left the country. He had had an ex-girlfriend who had gone, and all of the stories he told me had happened to him had actually been her stories.

Even when confronted he would deny that he had lied, always having some elaborate explanation as to why he lied. He had a scar on his elbow that he'd told me was from being stabbed, along with a long story about the stabbing, which he'd retold several times over to me and others. One night at a party I joined a conversation where has was in the middle of telling a group of people that the scar had some from him tearing his elbow on a nail jutting out of a window. Right then and there, in front of everyone, I asked him why he'd told me it was from a stabbing. He laughed and said, "I only tell people that when I don't like them, I have no idea why I told you that..." Huh?

The thing is, I really think he believed his lies, if that makes any sense. So when confronted he'd get confused and wonder why you were contradicting him, because he honestly thought he was telling the truth after a while. That's just scary. That's seriously pathological. Also I think it helps the delivery seem more genuine.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-11-26 11:11 pm (UTC)

In this girl's case, I believe her home life was such that she felt really uncomfortable, unnaturally uncomfortable about certain details. Rather than decline to talk about them, or express the negativity, she would actually diffuse this from herself by invention of something better.

She'd use it, however, to manipulate situations to her advantage, so it began to become a source of power. That's probably when it went off the charts into bizzaroland.
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From: zboson
2005-11-27 01:57 am (UTC)
Did she tell really elaborate and strange stories which were so weird you had to believe they were true? My ex would come up with all kinds of truly weird stuff, really incredible, he should have been a writer for the amazing stories he would come up with.

And I would always fall for them! *d'oh*
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-11-27 02:30 am (UTC)
She would craft the untruths into her truths.

When talking about her day, she'd relay details of schedule coordination between both jobs. The university which she claimed to attend actually was a community college. So, when she'd talk about her day, she would craft little details into her true and false information.

I don't remember particular conversations as they happened. However, this is a short example.

"Well, I had a busy day. First, I had to go to [False University], and they pushed up the timetable on our [False Class 101] project. So, I went straight from class to get some supplies so I could finish the project. Then, I went to the store to get the booze for this evening, but then I had to go to work at Hooters at 6 PM. So, I was there from 6 to 10, which was why I was late."

"So, where's the booze?" (It's 11 PM, and she was supposed to meet up with the alcohol at 9)

"During my shift, I talked to Joe the bouncer. He was short on cash so I felt bad for him since he needed some beer because he's a big alcoholic. So, I lent him the 24-pack I bought. He'll pay me back Monday."

"So, why didn't you get another 24-pack?"

"I don't have money until next Thursday when my next paycheck comes in!"

"Well then, why'd you give the guy the 24-pack?"

"I felt sorry for him!"

"Damn, [Former Friend] . . ."

"Well, you got money right? Can't you drive up to the store and buy some?"

Often, the former friend's lies revolved around personal failures in her promises. However, she would volunteer untruths interwoven into her conversation without provocation. Sometimes she would mislead people about others.

I believe I was interested in one of her friends, and she kept telling me that her friend liked me. After some time, my close friends (prior to this one) found out that her friend didn't really care for me, and she had some people that she usually 'hung out/dated.'

We began to suspect about strange situations like this, but it took a long time because we generally wrote her failures off like we would any normal person. I think at some point that friend of hers that I was interested told some friends of mine that half of the times that she supposedly could not make it to hang out with us were not a result of what we were told ("she was busy"), but that our former friend never told her at all about the get-together.

I dunno if that makes any sense, but it was a subtle set of untruths carefully woven into the framework, which was the best way I can describe it. It was very hard for anyone to detect. Her family didn't help, either. They knew about her problem with the truth, and we always thought her family was cool with her, but it turned out they really weren't, for obvious reasons. The former friend even went that far as to paint untruthful pictures about her situation with her own family.
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