Science

What a tangled web we weave: high-tech lying

Technological tools such as BlackBerrys, cellphones and e-mail are often cited for the convenience they offer. A new study suggests they also make it easier for people to lie.

Technological tools such as BlackBerrys, cellphones and e-mail are often cited for the convenience they offer.A new study suggests they also make it easier for people to lie.

Some 81 per cent of the 1,487 people surveyed for the online poll released on Wednesday admit to telling white lies at least once a day, and 72 per cent confess they use technological means to do so.

The poll, conducted in November for British financial services group Friends Provident PLC, found that 74 per cent of people believe technology makes it easier to lie, and 51 per cent of respondents said they felt less guilty using technology to lie than they do face-to-face.

"With gadgets likely to have topped the nation's shopping lists this Christmas, it seems as though Britons will have plenty of new toys to fuel this trend," the company said in a written statement.

Some of the respondents used multiple means for their "techno treachery," according to the researchers at British polling firm 72 Point Ltd., which was commissioned to produce the study.

Some 18 per cent of those surveyed used cellphones in their deceptions, 27 per cent sent mendacious text messages, and e-mail led the pack of lies with 27 per cent.

The most common use oftechnology to lie was related to the workplace. More than two-thirds, or 67 per cent of respondents, said they had told a white lie at work, with 43 per cent saying they hadclaimed they were ill, 23 per cent pretended work was done and 18 per cent masked a major error.

But work wasn't the only domain affected by dishonest use of devices. About 41 per cent of the survey's participants said they had deceived their families or partners. Some 29 per cent said the worst white lie to a partner would be about where they had been or what they were doing, and 27 per cent found flirting with someone else the worst.

Asked what theywere likely tolie about, the people surveyed seemed to focus on appearances. They ranked buying new clothes or their cost first, at 37 per cent, followed by how good clothes look on a friend or partnerat 35 per cent. What they ate tied for second place at 35 per cent, appropriately followed by how much they weigh at 32 per cent, and finally 31 per cent said they would fib about how much they had had to drink.

The survey found that 84 per cent of people believed the occasional white lie caused no one any harm.

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