Ever get nervous when someone takes a long time to text you back?
Trust your gut. A new Brigham Young University study has found that when people lie, it may take them longer to compose digital messages. Their messages also might be shorter than usual.
"We are starting to identify signs given off by individuals that aren't easily tracked by humans," study co-author Dr. Tom Meservy, BYU professor of information systems, said in a written statement. "The potential is that chat-based systems could be created to track deception in real-time."
Apparently, humans aren't the greatest lie detectors. According to the researchers, we only catch people fibbing about 54 percent of the time -- that's slightly above chance.
It's even harder to detect deception when there's no face-to-face interaction involved, and according to a previous study, people are more likely to lie when they text.
"Digital conversations are a fertile ground for deception because people can easily conceal their identity and their messages often appear credible," Meservy said in the statement.
For this new study, 100 university students carried out online conversations with a computer. The computers asked the students 30 questions, and the students were instructed to lie in about half of their answers.
They found that the students spent 10 percent longer writing messages with lies, and they spent more time editing those messages.
Does this mean that every time your friends take an hour to respond, they're crafting a devious plot to deceive you? No, the researchers cautioned the study only reveals a more general pattern across a group of people.
The study will be published online this week in the journal ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems.