Washing Hands Makes you More Optimistic: Study

First Posted: Oct 25, 2013 07:19 AM EDT

A new study claims that washing our hands makes us optimistic.

Past research has confirmed that washing our hands influences how we think, judge and decide.  The present study, conducted by Dr. Kai Kaspar, Junior professor for social and media psychology at the University of Cologne, examines how physical cleansing affects a person after failure.

For the study, Kaspar recruited 98 subjects and placed them in three different groups. In the first part of the experiments, participants from the two groups were asked to solve an impossible task. One of the groups was asked to wash their hands after the test. Researchers found that people who washed hands were more optimistic than the others.

The study contradicted the idea that higher optimism leads to better performance. This study showed that the subjects who did not wash their hands performed considerably better when compared to the group who washed their hands. Rather, the performance of the subjects who washed their hands matched the level of the third group who did not experience failure and only participated in the second test run.

 Kaspar concluded from the results that, "while physical cleansing after failure may eliminate negative feelings, it reduces the motivation to try harder in a new test situation to restore one's own perception of competence. Hence, physical cleansing seems to result in being in a better position to deal with failure."

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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