A new study shows a link between your nose and lying. Much like Pinocchio, if you lie, your nose will show it. Only instead of growing like Pinocchio’s, it will heat up.
Psychology researchers, Dr. Emilio Gomez Milan and Dr. Elvira Salazar Lopez from the University of Granada in Spain used thermography in an experiment to study temperature of people’s faces.
Thermography is a specialized camera with a technique that uses imaging to detect where heat is given off by any given subject or object such as buildings, motors, animals and humans. The infrared pictures are then printed with various colors depending on the amount of heat given off in any specific area of that object. White denotes the warmest areas; reds and yellows point to intermediate temperatures; and blue represents the coolest locales.
Researchers said they found an increase of temperature around the nose and in the orbital muscle in the inner corner of the eye when someone would tell a lie.
When a person lies, a brain element called ‘insula’ is activated. The insula is a component of the brain reward system, and it only activates when we experience real feelings that are called ‘qualias’. In that same way that it activates for our feelings, it also involves in the detection and regulation of body temperature.
The researchers stated there is a strong negative correlation between insula activity and temperature increase: the more active the insule (the greater the feeling) the lower the temperature change, and vice versa.
In that same study, researchers also found that face temperature drops for people trying to perform a difficult mental task and on then rises for people experiencing high anxiety.
The researchers say that using thermography for evaluating emotions and identifying emotional contagion since the face temperature pattern is so different. For example, when a highly empathic person sees another person having an electric discharge in their forearm, they become infected by their suffering and temperature in their forearm increases.
It’s not exactly clear why a lie would have this type of effect, since the insula is a poorly-understood area of the brain.
The study focused on this so-called “Pinocchio effect” as part of a doctoral thesis and has yet to be published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal.