May 05, 2021

The Pinocchio effect

The character Pinocchio is famous for his nose growing every time he lies. It turns out that everyone has a similar telltale sign that they are lying too.

On average, liars use more words than someone telling the truth. They also use more third person pronouns. They talk about him, her, them, they, it, or their instead of I in order to distance themselves from the lie they are telling. Liars also tend to speak in more complex sentences as a way to win over a suspicious counterpart by sounding smart.

This is known as the Pinocchio effect because instead of somebody’s nose getting bigger, their sentences tend to get bigger as they lie. Use this observation to detect if the person you’re dealing with is speaking the truth.