Reynolds, L. Hancock, J., Birnholtz, J. & Smith, M. (2013, June). Everyday deception or prolific liars? A new approach to prevalence deception. International Communication Association 63rd Annual Conference, London, UK.

Abstract

While there is a body of research exploring deception in interpersonal communication, there are several areas where open questions remain regarding this practice. Specifically, some key open questions concern the frequency with which deception occurs, the effects of relationship closeness on deception, and the properties of deceptive messages told using relatively new communication media such as SMS text messaging. This study addresses these questions using a novel data collection method that allows for the examination of individuals’ communication records at the message level, which may provide a more accurate account of deceptions than diary or survey methods used in prior studies that relied heavily on participants’ ability to accurately recall their conversations and deceptions. Results here suggest that deception in text messaging is a commonplace, yet infrequent, occurrence for the majority of our  participants, although there were a small number of prolific liars who told a large number of lies using text messaging. Additionally, there was some support for the argument that deception occurs less frequently in closer relationships, as well as how the frequent interaction and coordination goals of text messaging may be reflected in the properties of deceptive text messages.