It's 10 pm. Several friends are out and waiting for you, but you're still in pajamas and can't seem to bring yourself to leave the couch. What do you do?
If your instinct is to reach for your phone and text an excuse (rather than calling to deliver your fib), you could be doing more harm than you think. A new study led by Wichita State University Business School's David Jingjun Xu, an associate business professor, and researchers at the The Sauder School of Busines at The University of British Columbia found that people are more likely to be hurt by lies they are told via text than to their face.
The study, which will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, examined the behavior of 170 U.B.C. business students asked to make fake stock trades over text, via video, over the phone and face-to-face. The students appointed "brokers" or sellers were given inside information -- that the stock they were selling would decrease in value by half -- and told they'd receive cash for increasing stock sales. Buyers were also promised cash rewards based on the value of the stock they purchased, but they didn't receive the insider tip. After the transactions were conducted, the buyers were asked if the sellers had misrepresented the stocks.
USA Today reports that buyers were 95 percent more likely to say they were lied to if the sale was conducted over text than if it was done over video, 31 percent more likely than those trading in person and 18 percent more likely than those who had spoken to one another over the phone.
While researchers concluded that people are more likely to be deceptive via text -- Sauder Professor Karl Aquino wrote in a press release, "Our results confirm that the more anonymous the technology allows a person to be in a communications exchange, the more likely they are to become morally lax," the study apparently measured only perceptions of deceit -- what the deceived thought and felt. It evidently didn't look at the rates at which sellers actually lied across various media.
Still, it's not hard to see that it could be easier to lie over text -- there's no eye contact involved, and the inflection in your voice can't give you away.
What was surprising was how participants felt about being lied to via text versus face to face. The study showed that buyers were less angry when the seller had been dishonest in person. "Rapport-building occurs when talking face to face and that is helped along by eye contact, body language and other factors," the study's co-author, associate professor Ronald Cenfetelli, told Mashable. "That helps soften the blow a bit when you find out you're being lied to. Through text, it's stripped of emotion and body language, and magnifies the depth of pain," Cenfetelli said.
Do you find texted lies less hurtful? And do you find it easier to lie via text? If you're willing to come clean, email us the worst lie you’ve ever told via text at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @HuffPostWomen with hashtag #TextNoLies
CORRECTION: David Jingjun Xu's name was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this post.