Study: People may take longer to respond by text if they're lying

Sept. 5, 2013 at 4:38 PM
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PROVO, Utah, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Taking longer to respond in online communication, making more edits and writing shorter responses than usual could indicate one is lying, U.S. researchers say.

A Brigham Young University study finds those can be telltale signs of lying in digital messages, whether it's texting, social media or instant messaging.

It's hard to tell when someone is lying through a digital message because you can't hear a voice or see an expression, the researchers said.

"Digital conversations are a fertile ground for deception because people can easily conceal their identity and their messages often appear credible," Tom Meservy, BYU professor of information systems, said. "Unfortunately, humans are terrible at detecting deception. We're creating methods to correct that."

The researchers created a computer program that carried out online conversations with study participants, asking them 30 question each.

The participants were told to lie in about half of their responses, and the researchers subsequently found responses filled with lies took 10 percent longer to create and were edited more than truthful messages.

"We are starting to identify signs given off by individuals that aren't easily tracked by humans," Meservy said in a BYU release Thursday. "The potential is that chat-based systems could be created to track deception in real-time."

The researchers cautioned it shouldn't automatically be assumed someone is lying if they take longer to respond, but said their study does provide some general patterns.

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