By: Indian Express - Online
Friday, October 07, 2011
You can indeed wash away your troubles and pain with soap and water, a US researcher says.
Religious rites like baptism make psychological sense, the article suggests.
“Cleansing is about the removal of residues,” said Spike W S Lee of the University of Michigan
By washing the hands, taking a shower, or even thinking of doing so, people can rid themselves of a sense of immorality, lucky or unlucky feelings, or doubt about a decision.
“The bodily experience of removing physical residues can provide the basis of removing more abstract mental residues,” he said.
In one study, the authors found that people asked to judge the moral wrongdoing of others saw them as worse when exposed to an unkempt room or bad odour than when sitting in a clean room.
In another study, participants asked to think of a moral wrongdoing of their own felt less guilty after using an antiseptic hand wipe; they were also less likely to volunteer for a good deed to assuage that guilt.
The ‘clean' participants in one study not only judged others more harshly, they judged themselves as more moral than others.
But we can't conclude that people who bathe a lot are happier.
“Cleansing removes the residual influence of earlier experience,” says Lee.
“If that experience was positive, it would go down the drain too. In fact, washing one's hands after reminiscing about a positive event limits the warm glow of happy memories, leaving people less satisfied,” he added.