Interruption, Surprise and Moral Cleanliness
It's often surprising to listen to people. They can be observing a violent act on television or in a movie theater and yet when asked about it, they might say, "yeah but it sort of makes sense."
And you are sitting there wondering how the heck someone could ever conclude such a horrible thing.
People are typically only reporting on what images, feelings and stimuli that are triggered into their brain. And only part of that comes from the TV, the movie or speaking with you.
Most of it has nothing to do with any of the above.
For example, how might washing hands impact whether people say good/bad or yes/no?
Does Cleanliness Makes People Less Severe In Moral Judgments?
In one experiment, students watch a 'disgusting' film clip
before rating moral dilemmas. However, half the group were asked
to first wash their hands. Those with freshly washed hands
exercised less severe moral judgment than their counterparts.
New research in Psychological Science, a journal of the
Association for Psychological Science has found that the
physical notion of cleanliness significantly reduces the
severity of moral judgments, showing that intuition, rather than
deliberate reasoning can influence our perception of what is
right and wrong.
Lead researcher, Simone Schnall explains the relevance of the
findings to everyday life; "When we exercise moral judgment, we
believe we are making a conscious, rational decision, but this
research shows that we are subconsciously influenced by how
clean or 'pure' we feel.
"Take for example the situation of a jury member or voting in
an election - if the jury member had washes their hands prior to
delivering their verdict, they may judge the crime less harshly.
"Similarly, someone may find it easier to overlook a political
misdemeanor had they performed an action that made them feel
'clean' prior to casting their vote."
The research was conducted through two experiments with
university students. In the first, they were asked to complete a
scrambled sentence task involving 40 sets of four words each. By
underlining any three words, a sentence could be formed.
neutral condition, the task contained 40 sets of neutral words,
but for the cleanliness condition, half of the sets contained
words such as 'pure, washed, clean, immaculate, and pristine'.
The participants were then asked to rate a series of moral
dilemmas including keeping money found inside a wallet, putting
false information on a resume and killing a terminally ill plane
crash survivor in order to avoid starvation.
The second experiment saw the students watch a 'disgusting'
film clip before rating the same moral dilemmas. However, half
the group were asked to first wash their hands.
The findings from both experiments demonstrated that those who
were subject to the cognitive feeling of cleanliness exercised
less severe moral judgment than their counterparts.
Association for Psychological Science.
Cleanliness Makes People Less Severe In Moral Judgments.
When THEY feel clean, they will be easier on you and more likely to see you in a positive light than when they don't feel clean.
It might pay to keep two bars of soap and towels with you
wherever you go.
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