With a Clean Conscience Cleanliness Reduces the Severity of Moral Judgments. S.Schnall, J.Benton & S.Harvey (2008) Becky, Joanna, Julia, Mairi & Tim. Introduction. “Many cultures equate physical cleanliness with moral and spiritual purity” (p.1119)
S.Schnall, J.Benton & S.Harvey (2008)
Becky, Joanna, Julia, Mairi & Tim
“Many cultures equate physical cleanliness with moral and spiritual purity” (p.1119)
Some recent experiments have provided evidence supporting the theory that cleanliness reduces the severity of moral judgements.
For example, Schnall et al (2008) found when participants recalled a disgusting experience, or watched a video which induced the feeling of disgust, they rated moral judgements as more severe.
Zhong and Liljenquist (2006) found that participants were more likely to use cleansing words after recalling a past moral transgression and appeared to want to engage in cleansing behaviour.
Experiment 2: Results and Discussion whether physically cleaning oneself after feeling ‘disgust’ could reduce the severity of moral judgements.
Emotional ratings and subsequent moral judgements were assessed.
ANOVA testing carried out on 9 emotional ratings.
Focussed specifically on disgust which was found to be felt more strongly than other emotions
Disgust levels were equal in the hand washing and non hand washing conditions prior to assessing moral judgements.
Found that Participants in the hand washing condition had less severe moral judgements than those in the non-hand washing condition.
Trolley and Wallet results above were significant. whether physically cleaning oneself after feeling ‘disgust’ could reduce the severity of moral judgements.
This suggested that the act of physically cleansing oneself had reduced the participants level of disgust and therefore made their moral judgements less severe.
Activating intuitions (both conceptually and physically) about cleanliness reduces severity of moral judgments
-- effects substantial
Purity can serve as a basic intuition
Supports Haidt’s (2001) social intuitionist model
-- moral judgments do not have to involve specific emotional processes
Further than personal morality - Zhong & Liljenquist (2006)
‘Purity’ is not just a metaphor