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Users surprisingly candid in text messaging: Study

Text messaging is a surprisingly good way to get candid responses to sensitive questions, a new study has revealed. What the survey says

gadgets Updated: May 18, 2012 01:20 IST

Text messaging is a surprisingly good way to get candid responses to sensitive questions, a new study has revealed.

Fred Conrad, a cognitive psychologist and director of the Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) conducted the study with Michael Schober, a professor psychology and dean of the graduate faculty at the New School for Social Research.

"The preliminary results of our study suggest that people are more likely to disclose sensitive information via text messages than in voice interviews," Conrad said. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/5/18_05-pg-17a.jpg

"This is sort of surprising since many people thought that texting would decrease the likelihood of disclosing sensitive information because it creates a persistent, visual record of questions and answers that others might see on your phone and in the cloud," he said.

With text, the researchers also found that people were less likely to engage in "satisficing" - a survey industry term referring to the common practice of giving good enough, easy answers, like rounding to multiples of 10 in numerical responses, for example.

"We believe people give more precise answers via texting because there's just not the time pressure in a largely asynchronous mode like text that there is in phone interviews.

"As a result, respondents are able to take longer to arrive at more accurate answers," Conrad said.

The team included psychologists, psycholinguists, survey methodologists and computer scientists from both universities, as well as collaborators from AT and T Research. Funding came from the National Science Foundation.