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Clean Hands – Clean Conscience? The study of Zhong & Liljenquist (2006):Zhong & Liljenquist (2006): Contributor© POSbase 2008 When Pilate decided to hand Jesus over to the people who wanted to crucify him, he washed his hands and said: „I am innocent of this man‘s blood“ (Matthew 27,24). Washing rituals often serve moral cleansing, as the Christian custom of baptism, which – among other things – is justified with the words „be baptized and wash your sins away” (Acts, 22,16).
Clean Hands – Clean Conscience? Zhong & Liljenquist devised a study in order to show whether the link between physical cleanliness and moral purity can still be found in modern humans. In one of their experiments, one group of participants had to write down a morally good deed from their own past, whereas the other group had to write down a immoral deed from their own past. After writing down the deed, the participants were offered a small gift: Either a pencil or an antiseptic wipe. © POSbase 2008
Clean Hands – Clean Conscience? If modern humans still connect physical and moral purity, those who had to write down an immoral deed are predicted to choose more probably the antiseptic wipe. Indeed, 2/3 of those who wrote down an immoral deed chose the antispetic wipe, which only 1/3 of those who wrote down a morally good deed chose. In another experiment, all participants had to write down an immoral deed. Then, one group – but not the other – was given the opportunity to clean their hands with an antiseptic wipe. © POSbase 2008
Clean Hands – Clean Conscience? At the end, all participants were asked whether they would help another doctoral student by volunteering in an experiment without being payed or getting credits. Of those who were given the opportunity to wipe their hands, only 41% helped. Of those who could not clean their hands, 74% helped. This finding suggested that those who could clean their hands felt morally more pure and therefore felt less of an urge to help others. © POSbase 2008
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