Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Assignment 4: I’m not a liar…and I’m so ashamed.

I was so excited to record all of my lies this weekend and marvel at my spectacular deceptive skills. I expected to discover that I successfully deceive people all the time without even thinking about it. I ran to talk to one of my friends and prepared to dazzle myself with my deceptive competence. No lies. ‘Ok,’ I thought determinedly. ‘Don’t worry. There’s plenty more interactions where that came from. Surely you are a fabulous liar.’ If there were any real lies told, it was that. The more interactions I had, the more I discovered that I don’t really lie all that much. When I do lie, it’s basically either to end a conversation more politely than, “Alright, we’ve run out of things to say to each other and I’m bored,” or it’s to hide something unflattering about myself from someone I’m not close enough with to feel comfortable with their knowing it. In the case of the latter, I don’t even tell outright lies but, rather, sugar-coat the truth in a more positive light. And, I have to say, after having learned so much about how deception can be a great communication tool, I’m questioning whether or not I am a skillful communicator or (dun dun dun) not!

There must be something wrong here! Surely, having years of communication experience under my figurative belt, I am not a bad communicator. So, I went to the next logical thought process: what was wrong with the diary study?

Apparently, I have a lot of truthful interactions that last under 10 minutes. The results of my diary study will probably show that I lie a lot more frequently than I actually do. Since I was only asked to record my deceptive interactions and my truthful interactions of over 10 minutes, there are a lot of missing interactions. After having been conscious of my lies for an entire weekend (seems like a lot longer when you have to write down all of your interactions, doesn’t it?), I can honestly say, since apparently I’m such an honest person, that I do it more infrequently than the diary study documents.

Another problem I had was defining what exactly an interaction was. For example, I have a roommate. My roommate is my best friend and we not only talk a lot but we pretty much read each other’s minds. We don’t need to talk continuously to know what the other is thinking. In a given hour, she and I will exchange a few remarks or jokes while entering and exiting the room. The comments will be spaced out by about 5-10 minutes and don’t really last more than a few seconds. Collectively, however, they comprise what could be considered an hour-long truthful but not meaningful interaction. However, we weren’t really talking about anything in particular. I had nothing really to lie about. Does this interaction really count?

Another thing is that I might have subconsciously avoided people with whom I know conversations tend to last long enough to need recording. (Note: by “subconsciously,” I mean that I consciously gave into my laziness) If I saw that person X was calling me on my caller-id, and I know that person X can really go, I might say “I think I’ll talk to them some other time” if I know I am going to have to fill out a form about it. I have a feeling, that I’m probably not the only one who felt this way.

As for the diary study, I think it needs a lot of work. In theory, it’s an excellent way to get a sense of how people interact. However, I think a more effective diary study might be a consensual but surprise voice recording. For example, if we have people consent to being recorded for a full week during the year but don’t tell them which week the recorder will be taping for, or even that we are looking at deception at all, their behavior might not be affected by the diary study. I’m sure that some clever comments will tell me everything that is wrong with this idea. However, I think that this study doesn’t fully work, but that there is definitely some merit to its idea. As for me, I’m definitely going to start lying way more. (See? I’ve already started!)

5 Comments:

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At 8:08 PM, Blogger Kate Frezon said...

Nikki – I definitely had a lot of similar thoughts about the diary study, especially in regards to the confusion over the 10-minute limit, and what actually should count as a social interaction. I’d be interested in seeing more about your idea on how to improve the study, by recording subjects but not telling them why, or what they are looking for. I think it’s majorly important that the subjects not know that deception is the issue, and I think that without this knowledge it hopefully wouldn’t affect your behavior. Another idea instead of having researchers look at this recorded data after it’s collected, would be to give the data back to the subject, and then ask them to analyze it for deception. Given an accurate transcript of their conversations, they should be able to recollect them well enough to do this. I think this would give more accurate data, but would definitely be very difficult to implement. Great idea!

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger Shane said...

Nikki,
Maybe you primed (and fooled) yourself psychologically by being so "excited" to tell a lie and actually catch yourself? Just a thought. I think that sugarcoating the truth and exaggerating is the one of the most pandemic communicative actions humans partake in. It's just so simple, useful, and satisfying, I think. And that might be one reason we are wired to do it. As we've discussed, lying is uncomfortable therefore we don't like to consciously do it or think that we did it. However, if we sugarcoat the truth and exaggerate, we're more likely to be okay with it and to not feel uncomfortable. In essence, it sort of creates an acceptable and positive feeling in the sense that it's usually funny or outrageous (both good feelings and thoughts for the most part). So, it's interesting to see that you were so excited to see how much you actually lied, but were then a bit "disappointed" to find that you don't actually lie that much, with the exception of sugarcoating. I guess that's a relieving feeling. I also like your suggestions for improving the diary study. Good luck with the attempt to lie more; I doubt you'll be good at it!

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger Erica said...

Your comments on the specific parameters for what makes a conversation are interesting. Many college students have similar relationships with their roommates to the one you have with yours. For me, it puts DePaulo's findings on deception and intimacy in a different light. It's not that we lie less to those with whom we are intimate because we have stopped working toward impression management; it's that we become less capable of deceiving. Close friends know what you're thinking without your even saying it, which makes deception incredibly difficult. Great insights.

 
At 9:54 PM, Blogger Erica said...

Your comments on the specific parameters for what makes a conversation are interesting. Many college students have similar relationships with their roommates to the one you have with yours. For me, it puts DePaulo's findings on deception and intimacy in a different light. It's not that we lie less to those with whom we are intimate because we have stopped working toward impression management; it's that we become less capable of deceiving. Close friends know what you're thinking without your even saying it, which makes deception incredibly difficult. Great insights.

 

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