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- It is difficult to tell if you are being lied to, especially if it's over text message.
- New research may have uncovered a few tell-tale signs that the person you're texting might not be telling the truth.
Instant messaging, including text messages, Facebook chat, and Whatsapp, have become our main port of call for contacting each other. Messaging is so ingrained into our society that many people struggle to pick up the phone when it rings. "Just text me," is much more socially acceptable.
We have also had to adapt with technology when it comes to things like dating, and this comes with its own issues. In fact, there's a whole set of words related to internet dating, and what can go wrong.
One problem that often comes up is picking up on the tone of a message. In person, unless someone is particularly skilled, you can often have an inkling they are lying to you. Their body language might be weird, or you might realise they are avoiding certain questions.
When you talk to someone over messages, you don't get all of these tell-tale signs. This makes it pretty difficult to determine that your partner is lying to you about something.
New research from Cornell University is here to help us out. According to a new study, there might actually be a few subtle signs in text messages that the content isn't entirely truthful. The paper, accessible here on Arxiv — the online archive where papers are published before being printed in journals — involved looking at 1,703 text conversations to try and find patterns that could indicate deceit.
The researchers separated messages into those that contained lies and those that didn't. Then they looked at the average number of words, the texter's gender, and how many times they contained certain words.
Women tended to use more words when they were lying. Truthful texts were about eight words long, whereas texts containing lies were about nine. Men's text messages were about seven words long on average, whether they were truthful or not.
When women were lying, they tended to be more self-oriented, using words like "I" and "my." Both men and women used non-committal phrases like "probably," "maybe," and "possibly."
Research from 2013, performed by researchers at Brigham Young University, also found that when people were lying, they took longer to respond to texts. Responses with lies took 10% longer to create than truthful messages, and they were edited more times.
There is no golden rule for spotting a lie in a text, but if you're suspicious of someone and they follow this pattern, it could be worth thinking about.
However, if someone takes longer to respond than usual, or they always send texts of nine words, don't jump to conclusions. The researchers say there are many other factors at play, and more research is needed in this area.