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Study says clean hands limit judgments

Nov. 30, 2008 at 2:46 PM

PLYMOUTH, England, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Individuals who wash their hands before making judgments tend to offer more lenient rulings, a study at a British university has found.

Psychologist Dr, Simone Schnall of the University of Plymouth said his study focused on 44 people, half of whom were asked to wash their hands, who were asked to rate various actions on a morality scale, The Daily Mail said Saturday.

The study's 44 participants were shown the heroin addict-themed film "Trainspotting" before being asked for their judgments, Schnall said.

Participants were asked to rank each action on a 9-point scale of morality ranging from acceptable to very wrong.

Among the actions detailed on the study surveys were stealing a wallet, abusing a kitten and eating the family dog.

Schnall said while all 44 participants negatively judged such actions in their corresponding rankings, those who had washed their hands prior offered less strict judgments.

The researcher said the implications of such findings had several real-life applications, the Mail reported.

"This could have implications when voting and when juries make up their minds," Schnall said.

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