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Schnall,%20Benton%20

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Significance of physical cleanliness and moral/spiritual purity amongst cultures ... Haidt & Joseph (2008) proposed that this need to be pure has developed from ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Schnall,%20Benton%20


1
With a clean conscience Cleanliness reduces the
severity of moral judgments
Schnall, Benton Harvey (2008)
2
  • Introduction
  • Significance of physical cleanliness and
    moral/spiritual purity amongst cultures and
    religions (e.g. washing parts of body before
    religious ceremony)
  • Haidt Joseph (2008) proposed that this need
    to be pure has developed from need to safeguard
    oneself from potentially harmful germs
  • This suggests that disgust evolved from an
    emotion to protect body from germs, parasites,
    etc, but was extended to social and moral domains
  • Thus, people find immoral acts disgusting

3
  • Prior studies have found that experimentally
    induced feelings
  • of disgust (i.e. bad smell, disgusting room,
    recalling a physically
  • disgusting experience) can lead a person to
    conclude a particular
  • moral action is wrong (Schnall, Haidt, Clore
    Jordan, 2008)
  • Zhong and Liljenquist (2006) looked at the
    association between physical and moral purity in
    Western cultures
  • This investigated whether cleansing could wash
    away ones sins in order to reduced the
    perceived seriousness of moral transgressions and
    washing away others sins
  • It is expected that priming participants with
    cleansing words would reduce the severity of
    moral judgments more so than would priming with
    neutral control words

4
Experiment 1
  • Method
  • 40 participants (30 females mean age 20)
  • scrambled-sentence task 40 sets of words, task
    is to underline any 3 words to
  • form sentences
  • neutral condition only neutral words in set
  • cleanliness condition ½ of words related to
    cleanliness (e.g. washed), ½ neutral
  • rating of 6 moral dilemmas on scale from 0
    (perfectly OK) to 9 (extremely wrong)
  • Dog (eating ones dead dog)
  • Trolley (switching the tracks of a trolley to
    kill one workman instead of five)
  • Wallet (keeping money inside a found wallet)
  • Plane crash (killing a terminally ill plane crash
    survivor to avoid starvation)
  • Resume (putting false information on a resume)
  • Kitten (using a kitten for sexual arousal)
  • then rating of current emotions on items relaxed,
    angry, happy, sad, afraid,
  • depressed, disgusted, upset, confused
  • Prediction
  • Priming with cleanliness words will reduce
    severity of moral judgments
  • compared to priming with neutral words

5
  • Results
  • no difference between 2 conditions on emotion
    ratings
  • lower ratings of moral judgments in cleanliness
    condition than in neutral condition



significant
  • After concepts of cleanliness were cognitively
    activated, moral judgments were
  • less severe

6
Experiment 2
  • Aimed to show that cleansing behaviour would
    reduce the effect of disgust on
  • moral judgements.

Method
  • 44 students (32 females mean age 22.18)
  • Participants tested individually
  • First room 3 min clip from Trainspotting

7
  • Second room hand-washing participants told to
    wash hands as room had to be kept
  • clean
  • Participants completed moral dilemmas at table in
    room
  • Dog (eating ones dead dog)
  • Trolley (switching the tracks of a trolley to
    kill one workman instead of five)
  • Wallet (keeping money inside a found wallet)
  • Plane crash (killing a terminally ill plane
    crash survivor to avoid starvation)
  • Resume (putting false information on a resume)
  • Kitten (using a kitten for sexual arousal)
  • Participants then had to report back on emotion
    felt immediately after watching film clip
  • Prediction participants who washed their hands
    after feeling disgusted would
  • make less severe moral judgements

8
Results
  • Disgust ratings higher than other emotions
  • participants felt equally disgusted in both
    conditions after film clip
  • Participants in hand washing condition made less
    severe moral judgements than
  • participants in no-handwashing condition.




significant
  • hand washing reduced feelings of disgust which
    reduced severity of moral
  • judgements
  • Did the study prime the cognitive construct of
    cleanliness?
  • Combination of priming and cleansing behaviour?
  • Not clear if washing hands alone accounted for
    the reduction in
  • moral judgement

9
Discussion
  • purity can serve as intuition when judging moral
    quality of actions
  • novel finding this occurs even when the action
    has nothing to do with participants
  • own morality

How does this fit with models of moral judgment?
Rationalist Model
10
Haidts (2001) Social Intuitionist Model
  • intuitive processes unrelated to specific
    emotions influenced moral judgments
  • fits with notion that intuitive processes do not
    always involve emotional processes

11
  • Conclusion
  • Haidts (2001) Social Intuitionist Model is
    supported
  • purity is not just a metaphor
  • we try to place ourselves close to high spiritual
    beings by being physically and
  • morally pure (in contrast to animals)
  • cleanliness has potential to lead people to see
    moral actions as pure and good
  • cleanliness might indeed feel as if it were next
    to godliness
  • Limitations
  • Low participant numbers
  • Not certain whether participants bought cover
    story for washing hands
  • Sex, religion may have had influence
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