Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Spot an Online Fibber

How to spot an online fibber

REPOSTING THIS IN HONOR OF SELF-INVOLVED BLABBERS - CYBERPATHS: writer and historian: DOUGLAS BECKSTEAD AND NATHAN E.B. THOMAS, and self-styled right wing American pundit: JEFF DUNETZ aka Yid With Lid

(ITHACA, N.Y.) How to spot an online fibber:
They talk too much, use more pronouns about others and use more terms about the senses, such as "see," "hear" and "feel," than people telling the truth, according to a new study by Cornell University communication experts.

"Our study suggests that people who are lying to another person in a chat room or in instant messaging use approximately one-third more words, probably in their attempt to construct a more cohesive and detailed story in order to seem believable," says Jeff Hancock, assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell.

"Perhaps more important is the finding that people being lied to also change the way they talk, even though they don't explicitly know they are being lied to," says Hancock. He found that targets of lies on the Web ask more questions and also use more words than when they are being told the truth. Hancock says that this may be another reason for the extra words: targets of deception may become skeptical and ask more questions than those receiving truthful information.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2004). It was first presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Chicago.

Other studies have shown that liars use fewer words, but these studies examined deceptive monologues, not a conversation with a partner, and did not look at online communications, which, because they are written, give people more time to prepare their responses. Hancock's finding that liars use more pronouns about others ("he," "she," "they") than truthful communicators is consistent with other research and is probably liars' attempts to distance themselves from their deception and to deflect the focus.

Hancock's co-authors are Lauren E. Curry '04 (now at Fordham Law School) and Saurabh Goorha, M.S. '04 (now in Cornell's S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management), and collaborator Michael T. Woodworth at Okanagan University College, British Columbia. The researchers studied 66 people and paired them up for a conversation via an instant-messaging interface on computers. Participants were asked to discuss five assigned topics about themselves; one of each pair was randomly assigned to fabricate stories in two topics and was given examples about the kinds of lies to tell. They had five minutes to prepare.

Although more research is needed to observe deceptive face-to-face conversations to see what happens when nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, are available, Hancock says that text-based communication is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. His findings suggest that researchers might be able to develop techniques to identify online communication that appears to be deceptive.

The study was supported in part by the Department of Communication at Cornell and a federal Hatch Grant.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

Jeff Hancock

(Sounds much like Ed Hicks, Dan Jacoby and Gareth Rodger, too!)

MORE: How to Nail an Online Liar

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