Lying Is More Common When We're Emailing, Study Shows

Conversing online might make you more inclined to lie, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that people lied more when they were emailing or instant-messaging, compared with when they talked to someone in person. Their study was published in the journal Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

"It's not news that we lie. What's new is that we lie even more online," study researcher Mattitiyahu Zimbler, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told HealthDay.

The Times of India reported that researchers had pairs of college students who were strangers talk to each other either in person, via email or over instant message.

The researchers found that they lied the most to each other when they were emailing, followed by lies in instant messages and then lies in face-to-face interaction.

"Ultimately, the findings show how easy it is to lie when online, and that we are more likely to be the recipient of deceptive statements in online communication than when interacting with others face-to-face," another study researcher Robert S. Feldman, a psychology professor and dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at U Mass-Amherst, said in a statement.

But Discovery News points out that while people may have a distrust of information put forth on the Internet -- for example, people with the too-good online dating profile or too many friends on Facebook -- technology could actually work the other way in making us honest, too.

Discovery News explains:

Surprisingly, a study of deception in e-mails versus phone calls found that people were more honest in e-mails because they can be documented, saved and aren't real-time communication scenarios, which is when most people drop white lies.