Are Social Networks Making Us Liars?

In about fifteen years, the modes of communication have been revolutionized by the arrival of smartphones and social networks. If the latter shake up lifestyles for the better and sometimes for the worse, they also tend to modify the behavior of the users and in particular their tendency or not to lie to their interlocutor.

David Markowitz, a researcher at the University of Oregon, is interested in this subject and has just published a very interesting article on The Conversation. The author first explains that an important study concerning the rates of deception and the technology was carried out in 2004. Except that the world has since changed enormously and the telephone calls decreased a lot, in particular in favor of the messages sent on instant messaging.

No more lies by phone and video chat

The scientist therefore wanted to update this research. So 17 years ago, 28 students were surveyed about the number of social interactions they had face-to-face, by phone, instant messaging, and email over the past seven days. They were also asked to indicate the number of times they lied. It then emerged that people lie most over the phone and through email that they are most honest.

What about 2021? To find out more clearly, David Markowitz surveyed 250 people who noted all of their social relationships and the number of interactions during which they lied in the past week. The types of communications used were: face-to-face exchanges, social networks, telephone, text messages, video calls, and emails.

The researcher was able to note that as in the previous study: “ people told the most lies through social interaction on synchronous media and without recording and when callers were far away: by phone or video chat. “. On the other hand, they were much more honest during the exchanges by e-mail.

Another interesting fact, the scientist noted quite a few differences depending on the means of communication used. Clear, ” the magnitude of variations in lying tendencies were more predictive of deception rates than differences between communication tools ».

Finally, the author ends on a positive note since he notes that, on the whole, the lie rate is very low. Most people are in fact honest, although there are always ” prolific liars within a population ».


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