Picking Your Nose do we all do it?
Now I'm sure that we all know how one goes about
picking their nose, so we can skip the step-by-step
We've all caught someone at sometime picking their
nose. Some try to do it in secret. Others do it openly
without embarrassment. Maybe even you have been
caught in the act.
Nose-picking is one disgusting habit and is certainly not
socially acceptable. So, are these people normal?
One would guess that this is not the type of thing
researched at our institutions of higher learning.
Believe it or not, there was a study on nose-picking
published in February of 1995 in the Journal of
Psychiatry. Yes, you read it right college professors
being paid the big bucks to find out who picks their
Of course, scientists must give everyday things
complicated scientific names. Nose-picking is a term
for us common folk. Nose-picking should really be
referred to as rhinotillexomania (rhino=nose,
tillexis=habit of picking at something, mania=obsession
with something). So, the next time that you see a
person picking their nose, tell them that they are a
The researchers prepared their "Rhinotillexomania
Questionnaire" and randomly mailed it to 1000
residents in Dane County, Wisconsin. Each survey
included a cover letter that stated "The University of
Wisconsin is conducting a survey of a common but
understudied habit scientifically known as
'rhinotillexomania'. Its common name is nose-picking."
Even better, the letter actually defined what
nose-picking is: "Insertion of a finger (or other object)
into the nose with the intention of removing dried nasal
secretions." I'll bet that you already knew that.
Can you imagine getting this survey in the mail? Even
with the University's seal on the stationary, one would
have to wonder whether this was a joke or not.
Now for the results (assuming that they are reliable):
Of the 1000 surveys mailed out, only 254 were
completed and returned to the researchers.
8.7% claim that they have never picked their
nose. (In other words, they are liars or they can't
remember doing it as a kid.)
91% stated that they had picked their nose in the
past and were still actively practicing this habit.
Yet, only 49.2% of the respondents actually
thought that nose-picking was common in adults.
9.2% rate their pickin' as »more than average.«
25.6% actually pick their noses daily, 22.3% do
it 2 to 5 times each day, and three people
admitted to doing it at least hourly.
55.5% spent 1-5 minutes, 23.5% spent 5-15
minutes, and 0.8% (2 people) spent 15-30
minutes each day cleaning their nostrils. One
lone soul claims to devote over 2 hours each day
to this ritual (I'm not a doctor and I can tell you
that this guy definitely has rhinotillexomania).
18% reported nosebleeds, while 0.8% claimed
perforation of the nasal septum from their
82.8% had picked their noses to "unclog the
nasal passages", 66.4% had done it to relieve
discomfort or itchiness, 35.7% to avoid the
unsightly appearance of a booger hanging from
their nose, 34.0% for personal hygiene, and
17.2% picked out of habit. 2.1% (five people)
claimed to pick solely for enjoyment. To no
one's surprise, one perverted person picked
his/her nose for »sexual stimulation.«
65.1% use their index finger, 20.2% use their
pinky, and 16.4% use their thumb (must have
BIG nostrils to fit a thumb in) as their instrument
Most people (90.3%) disposed of the goop in a
tissue or a handkerchief, while 28.6% used the
floor, and 7.6% stuck it to the furniture.
8% of the respondents actually ate the end
product. In case you are thinking of trying this
delicacy, the study claims that the pickings are
quite tasty (salty).
So, what have we learned from this groundbreaking
First, we now have positive proof that picking one's
nose is almost a universally practiced custom, although
most won't admit to it.
Second, boogers apparently taste good, although I can
guarantee to you that I will never do the taste testing to
And, lastly, when researchers are devoting money and
time to studying the picking habits of the United States,
it comes as no surprise that we can't find a cure for
cancer or HIV.