Photo Credit: Cafe Mama
A new study shows that hand-washing does more than remove the guilt of past misdeeds—it also “wipes the slate clean,” removing doubts about recent choices.
According to University of Michigan psychologist Spike W. S. Lee, “It’s not just that washing your hands contributes to moral cleanliness as well as physical cleanliness, as seen in earlier research. Our studies show that washing also reduces the influence of past behaviors and decisions that have no moral implications whatsoever.”
According to the authors, the results show that as much as washing can cleanse us from traces of past immoral behavior, it can also cleanse us from traces of past decisions, reducing the need to justify them.
This “clean slate” effect may be relevant to many choices in life. Does washing away the urge to justify one’s choice of one car over another, or even one partner over another, result in less rosy evaluations of them in the long run? If so, does this increase buyer’s remorse because buyers are less likely to convince themselves that they made the best choice possible?
Can you wipe the slate clean just by washing your hands?