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People more truthful in text messages

May 16, 2012 at 2:16 PM   |   Comments

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ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 16 (UPI) -- Text messaging can reveal more truthful responses to sensitive questions as people are more candid in them than in voice interviews, U.S. researchers say.

That is the conclusion of a study to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

"The preliminary results of our study suggest that people are more likely to disclose sensitive information via text messages than in voice interviews," said Fred Conrad, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

"This is sort of surprising," Conrad said, "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."

Researchers conducted the study to see whether responses to the same questions varied depending on whether the questions were asked via text or voice, whether a human or a computer asked the questions, and whether the environment, including the presence of other people and the likelihood of multitasking, affected the answers.

"We're in the early stages of analyzing our findings," psychology Professor Michael Schober said.

"But so far it seems that texting may reduce some respondents' tendency to shade the truth or to present themselves in the best possible light in an interview -- even when they know it's a human interviewer they are communicating with via text."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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