Science Daily reports that the “Pinocchio effect” has been confirmed. It has been shown that people’s noses do react strangely when people tell lies. They do not grow longer, however, but rather grow hotter in temperature. This reaction comes from anything that stimulates a stress response in the body, not just lying. As such, the tying of this physiological phenomenon to the fairy tale of “Pinocchio” is merely a strategy on the part of scientists (or science journalists?) to make an audience care about an otherwise seemingly small and unremarkable discovery through the connection to a story with which most people are familiar. This framing did stimulate my interest, admittedly, so I suppose it was not a bad marketing choice.
The abstract provided says:
When a person lies, he or she experiences a “Pinocchio effect”, which is an increase in the temperature around the nose and in the orbital muscle in the inner corner of the eye. In addition, when we perform a considerable mental effort our face temperature drops, and when we have an anxiety attack our face temperature rises, according to a pioneering study that has introduced new applications of thermography.
University of Granada. “‘Pinocchio effect’ confirmed: When you lie, your nose temperature rises.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121203081834.htm>.