Washing Hands Affects Judgement

Good health is in your hands, it is often said. And, now a new study has suggested that washing hands is not only an easy way of preventing infection, but it can also affect one’s moral judgement.


Researchers in Britain have carried out the study and found that people who clean themselves are less judgemental — in fact, they are more likely to be lenient before making such judgements, the ‘Daily Mail‘ reported.

According to them, the findings mean jurors who wash their hands may make their verdict less severe — and what is more interesting is that people who take shower before voting may be more likely to overlook political misdemeanours.

“We like to think we arrive at decisions because we deliberate, but incidental things can influence us. This could have implications when voting and when juries make up their minds,” lead researcher Dr Simone Schnall said.

Dr Schnall and colleagues at Plymouth University came to the conclusion after analysing the impact of washing hands on a group of people.

In the study, 22 people who had washed their hands, and 22 who had not, were made to watch a disgusting scene from the film ‘Trainspotting‘, about heroin addicts. They were then to rate how morally wrong a series of actions were on scale of one to nine with one being acceptable and seven being wrong.

The actions included stealing money from a wallet, lying on a job application, cooking and eating the family dog, killing a dying plane crash survivor to avoid starvation, and abusing a kitten.

All put the actions on the “wrong” side of the scale. But, in results which echo Pontius Pilate washing his hands of Christ’s death, those who had washed their hands were less likely to judge the actions as harshly as those who had not, the researchers found.

Sources: The Times Of India

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