You can’t go anywhere without someone texting you today.  For some, text messages are the preferred source of communications.  But how accurate are texts and can we rely on this form of communication?

The reality is that text message, while efficient, is a very flawed method of communicating.  According to longstanding research by Mehrabian, 93% of communication is lost if you are just relying on the words themselves – which is exclusively the realm of texts. Moreover, when people communicate in short bursts, it is easier to misunderstand the meaning of the text than in other forms of written communication that is longer. Indeed, according to researchers Kato and Akahori in 2005, the smaller the amount of emotional content in a text message led to an increased amount of anxiety and frustration in the reciever’s reaction.

According to recent research, by David Xu, assistant professor in the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, text messaging also leads to a greater likelihood of people lying in the text message.  Dr. Xu found that subjects who communicated via text messages were 95 percent more likely to lie or decieve than if they had interacted via video, 31 percent more likely to report deception when compared to face-to-face, and 18 percent more likely if the interaction was via audio chat.

Xu said this kind of research has implications for consumers to avoid problems such as online fraud, and for businesses looking to promote trust and build a good image, Xu said.

This also has implications for negotiations.  It is important to make sure that important negotiations are not conducted over text but instead through other methods.  Indeed, many negotiations require subtle clues to be interpreted.  Those interprations cannot occur through text messages.

It is also important to note that one benefit, however, of texting is for socially anxious people. For those people who are afraid of a face to face interaction, texting is beneficial. Indeed, research has shown that texting reduces the anxiety levels of persons who have difficulty communicating face to face.

Research Source: Wichita State University (2012, January 26). People lie more when texting, study finds.ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2012/01/120125131120.htm

By Steven G. MehtaSteve Mehta

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