VANCOUVER – People who text message are prone to becoming digital-age Pinocchios because the target of their fibs isn’t present to witness their noses grow.

That’s the newly-released finding of a University of British Columbia study that examined how technology impacts moral behaviour.

“Technology-mediated communication tools, we use them so much because they’re so convenient and they’re time-saving and efficient. But they do have this negative edge to them,” said Associate Prof. Ronald Cenfetelli, co-author of the study.

“Less self-awareness, greater anonymity . . . more distance between people—it leads to less moral behaviour.”

The researchers were prompted to investigate upon pondering why people won’t hesitate to illegally download music or movies but are loathe to shoplift the same items from a store.

People doing online shopping using websites like eBay should consider asking sellers to chat over Skype to ensure they’re getting honest information. Videoconferencing will likely be better for business than texted-based messaging.

The reason? Relationships are built when people can look each other in the eye, he said, and that rapport buffers against fallout from falsehoods.

In your discussion groups, discuss the following questions :

  • Do you agree with the opening sentence of this article? Why or why not?
  • Do you think technology-mediated communication tools have a negative edge to them? Provide specific examples.
  • Do the advantages of technology-mediated communication tools outweigh the negatives? Explain.
  • Do you feel that videoconferencing is better for business than text-based messaging? Provide specific examples.
  • Your post should be between150–200 words.
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