Hand Washing Leads to Rational Evaluations

Post­de­cision­al dissonance–an extremely close rel­at­ive of both post-pur­chase ration­al­isa­tion and the choice-sup­port­ive bias–is the phe­nomen­on whereby once we have made a decision we per­ceive our chosen option as the most attract­ive choice and the dis­carded altern­at­ives as less attract­ive, regard­less of the evid­ence.

Some intriguing recent research sug­gests that the phys­ic­al act of clean­ing one’s hands helps us ration­ally eval­u­ate our past decisions–clean­ing our hands cleans our minds, too.

After choos­ing between two altern­at­ives, people per­ceive the chosen altern­at­ive as more attract­ive and the rejec­ted altern­at­ive as less attract­ive. This post­de­cision­al dis­son­ance effect was elim­in­ated by clean­ing one’s hands. Going bey­ond pri­or puri­fic­a­tion effects in the mor­al domain, phys­ic­al cleans­ing seems to more gen­er­ally remove past con­cerns, res­ult­ing in a meta­phor­ic­al “clean slate” effect.

The art­icle is behind the Sci­ence pay­wall but there is an inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion in the com­ments of Over­com­ing Bias (via).

1 thought on “Hand Washing Leads to Rational Evaluations

  1. Jared

    I won­der if tak­ing a deep breath and count­ing to ten also cor­rel­ates pos­it­ively with ration­al eval­u­ations

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