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How to spot if people are lying in texts

A Brigham Young University study offers hope to all those who fear someone is texting them fibs. Lying texters take longer to reply and write shorter texts.

But is it OK if I lie?
Marni Wing/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

"Had a few drinks, went straight home."

"Working late."

"Let's elope."

If you get any of these texts -- and if they're a little longer in coming than usual -- it's very possible that your Chosen One is lying.

No, I don't want to break up your relationship. Well, not unless you need my help. But I've been poring over research from Brigham Young University that tries to discover whether lying texters have a behavior pattern.

You might think that you can spot a liar very easily.

Tom Meservy, a BYU professor of information systems, thinks you're quite full of it. He said in the research: "Humans are terrible at detecting deception. We're creating methods to correct that."

Merservy's definition of "terrible" is an exacting one. He believes that we can spot a lie 54 percent of the time.

But how do we know if he's telling the truth? He might be having us on, in order to prove just how clueless we are.

Still, his team's research (there were people from the universities of Nebraska and Arizona involved) asked respondents (who were, sadly, students) to lie 50 percent of the time in texted answers to questions.

What the researchers found was that the lying texts took 10 percent longer to compose.

"Hmmm. 'I love you'? 'Or I really love you'?"

Moreover, they seem to have been shorter, involving just a touch more editing in order to make the lie a little more foolproof.

Moral: If it takes a little longer and it arrives a little shorter, then it's probably a lie.

Those of you who are excited to don your Google Glass as humanity morphs into robots will be equally excited to hear a potential consequence of such research.

"The potential is that chat-based systems could be created to track deception in real-time," mused Meservy.

Please imagine the texts that will flow back and forth.

"I really, really love you."


"What? No, I do."

"Liar, Liar."

"I am not a liar."