According to a new study, frequent cleaning and proper hand washing can improve your mood. In fact, the study found that the ritual of cleaning makes us more optimistic after failure and that people who washed their hands after failing a task were more confident they could complete it the next time.
The study, conducted by Dr. Kai Kaspar, from the University of Cologne in Germany and published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, examined how physical cleansing affects us after a bad event. Dr Kaspar divided 98 people into three groups.
In the first part of the experiment, participants from two groups had to solve an impossible task. When both the groups failed, one group then washed their hands. Both groups were optimistic that they would better at the task next time but the ‘clean hands’ group were much more optimistic.
But there was a twist. While people who washed their hands felt better afterwards, they were also less likely to complete the task successfully next time.
Dr Kaspar explained: ‘While physical cleansing after failure may eliminate negative feelings, it reduces the motivation to try harder in a new test situation.’
Meanwhile, the non-hand washers performed better on the next occasion.
Previous research from the University of Michigan found that hand washing is physically and emotionally cleansing. A team of psychologists reported that the simple act of washing hands made people feel more comfortable about the decisions they had made. They found that people who washed immediately after making a difficult decision were happier with their choice compared with those who didn’t.
The researchers suggested that the act seems to help people mentally draw a line under the decision.
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