When we’re talking to someone, there are plenty of visual clues that are a dead giveaway as to whether they’re fibbing. Their face can start to go red, they might fidget and they might get sweaty.
“When we’re lying to someone face-to-face, it can be very hard to hide the visual clues our body is sending out. Humans are programmed to pick up on this visual information,” says psychologist Meredith Fuller.
But when a guy sends you a text telling you he’s come down with the flu (in the last two hours) and can’t make your dinner date? It’s way harder to determine if he’s telling the truth or not.
Which is why researchers from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the University of Arizona conducted a study into how we can tell if someone is lying from their texting technique. Surprisingly, they found that people who are lying take around 10 percent longer to respond to messages. So if a friend or potential BF takes way longer to reply than usual – something might be up.
The researchers also found that those who are lying via text – or email, social media or instant messages – will send shorter replies and will edit their messages a lot more.
According to Meredith Fuller, people will often opt to reply via text message if they are going to tell a lie. “Texting can be done any time, there’s no connection to real time or any face-to-face pressure. They can carefully construct what they’re going to say and they won’t give away any visual clues,” she says.
“Also, if you question someone about something via text and they reply with an extremely over the top denial, or are very defensive and are typing in capital letters, that could also be a sign they have something to hide,” explains Meredith.
Dr Meservy, who took part in the study, says that the findings could lead to the creation of technology that could detect digital lies. “The potential is that chat-based systems could be created to track deception in real-time,” he said.
The lesson? Don’t lie, people!
Photography credit: Sevak Babakhani/bauersyndication.com.au