We know washing our hands keeps them clean, helps prevent illness and definitely should be done before eating a meal. Washing our hands can also make us feel better, more confident and more optimistic according to some recent studies.
Washing your hands “wipes the slate clean” and removes doubts about recent choices. This was the main take away from a study performed at University of Michigan, reported Science Daily.
Participants were told to rank a set of CDs from 1 to 10 based on their preference to own the CD. They were then told they could pick either their fifth or sixth choice to own in appreciation for performing the task.
The participants were then divided into two groups and asked about a seemingly unrelated survey about liquid soap. One group examined only the bottle. The other group washed their hands with the soap.
Then both groups were asked to re-rank the CDs. The group that only examined the bottle of soap ranked the CD they chose higher in the second ranking.
The group that had washed their hands with soap did not feel any need to adjust their ranking of the CDs.
“Once participants had washed their hands, they no longer needed to justify their choice when they ranked the CDs the second time around," Norbert Schwarz, one of the study’s psychologist said.
In another study at the University of Cologne in Germany, psychologist Dr. Kai Kaspar examined how physical cleansing affects us after a failure.
In this study, 98 participants were divided into three groups. Two groups were given an impossible task to solve and the third group was not given any task to perform for this first round.
The two groups who could not solve the task were optimistic that they could solve a new task if given a chance in a second round. One of the two groups washed their hands right after and they were more optimistic than the non-hand wash group.
All three groups were then given the second task to perform. The surprise for Kaspar was that the non-hand washing group outperformed both the hand washing group and the third group who had not experienced failure at performing a task.