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Lying in Virtual World Can Be Spotted, Study Finds

Lying in Virtual World Can Be Spotted, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- When people lie while texting, using social media or instant messaging, they take longer to reply, make more edits and write shorter responses, researchers say.

Their study included more than 100 students from two large U.S. universities who answered 30 questions on a computer. The students were told to lie on about half of their responses. The lies took 10 percent longer to write, and were edited more than truthful messages.

"Digital conversations are a fertile ground for deception because people can easily conceal their identity and their messages often appear credible," study co-author Tom Meservy, a professor of information systems at Brigham Young University, said in a university news release. "Unfortunately, humans are terrible at detecting deception. We're creating methods to correct that."

Lying in digital communications has financial, security and personal safety implications.

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

While you shouldn't automatically assume that someone is lying if they take longer than normal to respond during digital conversations, the study does provide some general patterns, the researchers said.

The study was published online in the journal ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems.

More information

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry looks at children and lying.

SOURCE: Brigham Young University, news release, Sept. 5, 2013

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