Simply washing your hands could be enough to help let go of old ideas, new research finds.
A team of psychologists at the University of Toronto has found that cleaning your hands is enough to leave behind old goals and allow you to pursue new ones.
For the study people were ‘primed’ with a goal.
Priming involves unconsciously activating a goal in someone’s mind.
The results showed that when people subsequently wiped their hands, they forgot about this unconscious goal.
Ms Ping Dong, the study’s first author, said:
“For people who were primed with a health goal, for example, using the handwipe reduced their subsequent tendency to behave in a healthy manner — they were more likely to choose a chocolate bar over a granola bar.”
Other studies have shown that physical cleansing can help a person get over guilt from immoral behaviour.
Similarly, wiping the body clean also seems to help wipe the mind clean.
Ms Dong pointed out, though, that this study only tested the short-term effects of cleansing on goal pursuit.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (Dong & Lee et al., 2017).