Pull up a seat and have a steaming cup with me as we discuss issues central to the west-indian community, the african-american community and the LGBT community.

Friday, April 4, 2008

'How To' of the Day:The "Pinocchio Effect"

The Pinocchio effect, named after the fictional puppet-turned-boy of the same name, is a tactile illusion, an illusion that uses your sense of touch to "trick" your brain. Such illusions are remarkable because they challenge what we think we know about our perception of the world. Want to expand your nose and your mind? Try it out.


  • Arrange two chairs, one right behind the other. The chairs should both be facing the same direction.

  • Sit in the rear chair and have a friend sit in the chair in front of you.

  • Blindfold yourself or keep your eyes shut throughout the exercise.

  • Have your friend guide one of your hands to his or her nose. It will probably be easier to use your dominant hand for this part.

  • Bring your other hand up to your own nose.

  • Tap and stroke your friend's nose. Hopefully you're good friends, as this can seem a bit weird. Randomly alternate between tapping your friend's nose and lightly stroking it, as though you're trying to communicate with Morse Code. The more random your movements, the more likely you'll feel the Pinocchio effect. Be gentle.

  • Tap and stroke your own nose with identical movements. As you're tapping and stroking your friend's nose, use your other hand to reproduce the taps and strokes on your own nose. Try to synchronize the movements of your hands as closely as possible.

  • Continue for 30 seconds to a minute. After a while, you may start to feel as though your nose is three feet long (hence the name Pinocchio effect) or that your nose is somehow no longer connected to your body. Try it a couple times if it doesn't work the first time, and make sure the movements of your two hands are as identical as possible. If it still doesn't work, don't worry: about 50% of people can feel the Pinocchio effect, and you may be one of the other 50%.


  • Another variation is to tap your friend's nose as above but to have another friend tap yours (instead of you tapping your own nose).

  • This can be a fun way for teachers to illustrate the complexities of the mind to children.

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