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Lauren Admire | 10 May 2010 21:00

Hand-Washing Wipes Away Doubts, Damned Spots

After a big decision, do you still find yourself wondering if you made the right choice? Instead of dwelling over the possibilities, head to the bathroom and wash your hands for a few minutes. You'll feel much better.

Oh, and shouting "Out, damn'd spot!" while soaping up helps, too.

A study conducted by psychologists Spike W.S. Lee (wonder if he's ever done studies on jungle fever - ha!) and Norbert Schwarz shows that washing your hands after making a decision - any decision, be it large or small - may also wash away any lingering doubts.

"It's not just that washing your hands contributes to moral cleanliness as well as physical cleanliness," explains Lee. "Our studies show that washing also reduces the influence of past behaviors and decisions that have no moral implications whatsoever."

30 undergraduate students were asked to look through 30 CD covers and then choose 10 they'd like to own, ranked by preference. Later, they were offered a choice between the their 5th and 6th ranked CDs as a thanks for taking part in the survey. 15 of the students were then asked to complete another survey about liquid soap. Half just looked at the soap bottle, while the other half took it for a field test and washed their hands. Afterwards, everyone was asked to re-rank their list of CDs.

The half that just took a gander at the soap bottle re-ranked their chosen CD higher on the list than before. Those that washed their hands kept their CD choices at about the same rankings as before.

"As in hundreds of other earlier studies, once they had made a choice, they saw the chosen CD as much more attractive than before and rejected CD much less attractive," states Schwarz. "Once participants had washed their hands, they no longer needed to justify their choice when they ranked the CDs the second time around."

I wonder if hand-washing eliminates regret over eating an entire large pepperoni pizza by yourself, too. Not that I, you know, do that.

Source: Science Daily


Lauren Admire wants to live in the Seed Cathedral.

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