The 'Pinocchio Effect'



We all know the story of Pinocchio and that when he lied, his nose grew longer. Disney may just be on to something. Researchers at the University of Grenada have conducted studies that show that features on the face, including the nose and the inner eyes, rise in temperature when a person is lying. If this is accurate, measuring facial temperature with a thermal energy indicator may be a new lie detector.

            The logic behind this research centers around the brain element called the insula. The insula is a part of the brain that is within the cerebral cortex. When we lie, this part of our brain is triggered because the insula is linked with perception, self-awareness, and temperature. The researchers have found a correlation between insula activity and temperature increases. However, according to the article, the insula is not a very well understood part of the brain. They're basing the correlation on the assumption that lying would trigger activity from the insula because it is related to  self-awareness.



 This image
depicts an image captured from a thermal lighting camera while a person was
lying. The more red the section is, the more energy and temperature are present.

            My next thought was that if this study is accurate, then maybe it can be applied to crime investigation and lie detection. However, with further research in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience, this is not a reliable source. Frustration or anxiety are two examples of emotions that can also trigger the same activation of the insula reaction. Even if scientist could pin point how much energy is produced by different emotions, the scale of temperature rising would be subject to the individual. Do you think this study successfully identifies when a person is lying? Do you think it would be an invasion of privacy if the scientists could always tell if you're lying simply by your body heat? 


I like how you tied a child hood classic in with a current real life situation. I think that researching this further could help with many things. Take for example our current security. Whether it be the FBI, Secret Service, or the DEA they are always issuing lie-detector tests. Do you think that they have known this for a while and it has never been released in fear that people could find a way to keep that area cool when entering a lie-detector test? Maybe our government has been using this for a while...

This could never be used as a lie detector test because of the chance that it can be linked to frustration or anxiety can also trigger a similar reaction. When under investigation a person will probably frustrated with the badgering of questions, or anxious to leave. I wonder if this is related to how people get sweaty palms when they are nervous because nervousness can be very similar to frustration or anxiousness.

this is a very revolutionary way to separate the liars from the truthful people. this can really save ethical trials in the legal system when asking someone about his/her involvement with an investigation. what about the atmosphere and temperature? can't this effect the radioactive displayed insula?

I think that scientist should deffinitely pursure the research of this. Not only because it can detect lies, but I believe it will help the world with major conflicts and issues. If scientist can tell that someone is lying by the tempurature of their body (that is amazing for one,) and secondly, it can stop crime, it will help in courtrooms, and any other psychological health service. Im completely supportive of this research, and think everyone else should be! Invasion of privacy could play a role in why people wouldnt like it, but lie detectors do the same thing? its just as much as an invasion of privacy as recording you body temp.

No, I do not think this study can successfully identify when a person is lying simply because a persons body temperature can rise for several reasons. For starters, when a person is being interrogated regardless of whether the person is innocent or not, there is a level of nervousness and pressure that comes upon them which leads to high body temperature, sweating, sweaty palms, turning red etc. It is definitely an invasion of privacy if one judges whether a person is lying or not based on body heat because the person is being judged off of natural causes that can't really be controlled.

I think this study needs to be controlled more in order to be considered successful. Several factors could contribute why someone's temperature is elevated that has nothing to do with lying. I think the description of the study lacks details to know whether or not these other factors were controlled for. For example, were the subjects' temperatures taken regularly outside of this test setting over a period of time to find the average (because a lot of people vary a little warmer or colder than the 98.7 regular)? Also, did these people know that they were supposed to be lying, considering that their reaction to telling the lie may have been affected knowing this was a test and everyone knew they were lying to begin with, and they were not going to be judged for lying? In order for these results to prove or disprove anything, I think a better experiment should first be set up.

Based on what I know, and how lie detectors work, I have a feeling that this may be easy to pass for some people. I'm sure there are breathing/relaxation techniques to reduce stress inside the body which should effectively lower the body's temperature and make it relatively easy to lie. Sometimes when people get nervous it results in an increase in heart rate and blood flow, directly increasing the body's temperature. This lie detector test seems more like a way to detect nervousness and not necessarily detecting a lie. I know I would be pretty nervous if I had to sit down with authorities with a lie detector as advanced as measuring body temperature. That alone could make my heart rate increase, and raise my body temperature. This is definitely worth further research though as I'm sure there are ways to improve this lie detector.

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