Here's What Happens To Your Nose When You Lie

We are no strangers to lies. Whether they're white lies that get you out of work deadlines or lies about your child's COVID-19 status, the fact of the matter is that we all lie and we've also been lied to. 

Sometimes, when you're caught in a fib, you might wonder if there's something on your face that is giving you away. Are you sweating more than usual? Are your ears turning red? If you've been around children or watched cartoons, you probably also wonder if your nose is painting a guilty (and long) picture like Pinocchio. According to some scientists, it just might, although not in the way you think. 

The temperature around your nose and in the inner corners of your eyes (the orbital muscle) increases when you lie, per a 2012 study published by researchers at the University of Granada in Spain. Using thermography — a camera that detects thermal temperature differences — the scientists were able to monitor this temperature increase in a person's face when they were being deceptive (via Science Daily). The researchers also found that a person's facial temperature dropped when they were focused on something and increased again when they were anxious.   

Does your nose itch when you lie?

If you followed some of the news reports surrounding Bill Clinton's denial of his affair with Monica Lewinsky in front of a grand jury, you would have come across what scientists Dr. Alan Hirsch and Charles Wolf had to say about the whole thing (via Daily Mail).

Per Dr. Hirsch, who's a neurologist and psychiatrist, the tell-tale sign that the former president was lying had to do with how many times he touched his nose — 26 times per 60 seconds, to be exact.  

"I noticed that when he was lying he kept touching his nose. During the part when he was telling the truth he never touched his nose at all. But when he was lying he touched it 26 times a minute. We have called it the Pinocchio effect. When we are lying, the heart pumps quicker, swelling the nasal tissues," shared the doctor. This makes your snout itchy. While it's hard to find any more scientific proof about the fact that your nose itches when you lie, body language experts like Tonya Reiman have shared similar opinions (via Business Insider). Nose temperature and itchiness aside, lying does affect your health.

How lying affects your health

You may have heard about why you shouldn't lie to your doctor about your diet, but engaging in frequent untruths can also be detrimental to your health, according to psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Anita Kelly (via USA Today). 

Kelly was involved in the "Science of Honesty" study and shared its findings at the American Psychological Association's 120th annual convention, per Notre Dame News. The 10-week study recruited 110 volunteers — a mixture of adults and college students — within an age group of 18-71 years. One group was directed to refrain from untruths for 10 weeks while the other wasn't. Their health was monitored weekly during the study. "We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health," explained the psychology professor.

There is also some science to point toward a link between lying and anxiety, poor relationships, addiction, and depression (via Forbes). Turns out, it's not just your nose you have to worry about. Maybe this newfound knowledge is an inspiration to be as truthful as you can be going forward. Your mental and physical health might thank you.