If you want a truthful answer to a question, don’t ask it via text message — recent research suggests people are more likely to lie when using the modern form of communication.

In a new study led by David Yu, assistant business professor at Wichita State University School of Business in Wichita, KS and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, 170 UBC business students were asked to conduct fake stock trades in person, by video or by sending texts.

Volunteers acting as brokers were promised cash rewards for increased stock sales, and were tipped off that the stock they were selling would lose half its value. The “buyers” were told they’d be paid depending on their stocks’ value, but they didn’t get the same inside information the “brokers” had.

Once the trades were completed, the buyers were asked if their brokers had been dishonest. For those deemed deceitful, the researchers reviewed which form of communication they’d used to make their trades.

The results, published in the March issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, showed buyers who got information via text message were almost twice as likely to report a deception than those who’d communicated through video. In addition, they were 31 percent more likely to report possible deception than those who’d conducted business in person, and 18 percent more likely than those who’d had an audio chat with their brokers.

Researchers suggest it may be easier for people to lie in a text message than when they communicate through video or in person because they don’t feel as scrutinized, and they believe these findings could help consumers avoid problems like online fraud.

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