Even though most of us like to think that the decisions we make are rational and based on relevant factors weighed by our mind, more and more research comes to prove that many times people are subconsciously influenced by many other factors including…cleanliness.
New research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science proves that, when exercising moral judgment the feeling of being “pure” or clean may make your decisions less harsh.
Lead researcher, Simone Schnall, believes that this influence can prove to be quite noticeable in everyday life or even in special situations, when morality is involved.
“Take for example the situation of a jury member or voting in an election – if the jury member has washed their hands prior to delivering their verdict, they may judge the crime less harshly.
One can even forget about a political misdemeanor of a candidate when voting and stop considering it important enough to affect that person’s reliability.
Two experiments were conducted, university students being used as subjects. At first, the students had to create sentences using 40 sets of four words each by underlining any 3 words. The subjects were given neutral words for the first part of the experiment and then “clean” words such as “pure”, “immaculate”, etc.
After having created sentences using the words, they had to rate some situations where it was hard to make a decision from a moral point of view such as keeping money found in a wallet or killing someone who has a terminal disease so as not to die of starvation after a plane crash.
The second experiment meant that the students had to rate the same dilemmas after previously having seen a “disgusting” movie. Half of the group was asked to wash their hands before starting to rate the presented situations.
Those who were subject to the cognitive feeling of being clean proved to be less severe about moral judgment than the others, which demonstrates that that much time will pass until scientists will realize what really happens in one’s mind.
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