Does Modern Tech Make Us Better People?

Posted: February 19, 2013 in God, Life, Modern Life, Technology
Tags: , , , , , ,

OK, that might be an overstatement (especially if the above-pictured text is admitted as evidence), but a recent study at the University of Michigan discovered that people are more likely to be honest when texting.  Basically, the study found that people asked to respond to questions via text were less likely to engage in a practice called “satisficing” which happens when we give a rounded answer that we think is “good enough.”

When asked embarrassing questions like “how many times have you gotten drunk this month”, people were significantly less likely to round down if they were answering via text than if they were answering someone face to face.

Why would this be?  The people who conducted the study in Michigan think it’s because there’s less time pressure to answer, which, in turn, makes people more likely to give precise answers.  That’s fascinating to me.  It appears that the researchers think we lie because we don’t have time to be accurate and in our rush to give an answer, we just tend to round in a direction thats favorable to us.

I don’t buy it.

I think the truth is that texting leaves a trail.  There’s something very ephemeral about speech…it vanishes as soon as it comes into existence, so our answers to embarrassing questions don’t hang around to haunt us…or come back to indict us later on.  And I bet that little sinister/sinful part of all us, when asked an embarrassing question, is always thinking to itself “if I lie here, how likely am I to get caught?”

Texting creates a…well, a “paper” trail of sorts, I guess…that solidifies and permantisizes (new word!) our answers.  I don’t think texting makes us more honest because it gives us more time to think…it makes us more honest because it ups the chances we’ll get caught in a lie.


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