I don’t know about you, but I like to hear a clear cut answer when I pose a question. For example, when I ask my husband, “What time are you leaving work?,” I’d love it if he’d say “7:15,” not “pretty soon.” And when I ask a friend if she likes the way a dress looks on me, I’m looking for the cold, hard truth—not a confusing comment like, “the color is nice.”
How to avoid these indirect answers? The solution is actually at the tips of our fingers—or more accurately, our thumbs. After surveying 600 iPhone users, researchers at the University of Michigan and the New School in New York City found that people respond more truthfully to sensitive questions when they type out their answers in a text message—as opposed to speaking on the phone. They’re also less likely to engage in “satisficing,” the practice of giving good enough, easy answers, such as rounding off numbers. (Think: “I’ll be there in an hour,” when it’s really more like an hour and fifteen minutes).
So if you’ve been angling for a straight answer to a burning question—”Did you have fun on our date?” “Do you like the bridesmaid’s dress I picked out?”—bang it out on your touch screen. Closure may be closer than you think.