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How cleaning your hands can help you focus on future goals better

Cleaning hands have psychological impacts as well. That's why people often wash their hands after an immoral behaviour to get rid of guilt

India TV Lifestyle Desk India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi Published on: June 14, 2017 17:40 IST
cleaning hands may help focus better
psychological impact of cleaning hands

Cleaning your hands can help your brain a great deal. You won’t believe this but this actually happens. When you clean your hands your brain shed old ideas and focuses on new task at hands or goals. Who says this? The scientists have found out that an antiseptic handwash can actually reset your brain to a fresher start. This might sound bizarre to many, but it’s scientifically validated. Cleaning your hands physically gives a new start to your brain, researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada has found out that the physicality of cleaning your hand results in shifting goal pursuit, making prior goals less important and giving more importance to task at hand. So, the handwipes are not meant just for germs anymore. The users may extend to more flexible thinking and realigning their priorities by washing hand. 

The experiment was conducted in four tiers, each began by bringing the participants’ attention to a particular task through word games or a short survey. This process is called priming. The participants were then asked to either merely evaluate or use a handwipe. Those who used the handwipe became more attentive towards the future goals and were less likely to think about previous tasks, finding them less important. 

Moreover, their focus was more easily realigned towards a next goal. ."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," said Ping Dong, a PhD student at University of Toronto.

Earlier work has already suggested that physical cleaning hand reduces the effect of previous psychological experiences, such as guilt arising from immoral behaviour. The current research reveals the underlying mental process, how cleaning epitomizes a psychological procedure of separation. Wiping away dirt serves as a physical proxy for mentally separating ideas that linger from previous experience, hence preparing a 'clean slate' for focusing on new ones.

The research examined cleansing's short-term rather than long-term impact on goal pursuit, said Dong.While it may be premature to suggest that people intent on achieving goals should significantly alter their personal hygiene routines, the findings do suggest that when it comes to finding practical tricks for redirecting one's thinking away from old fruitless pursuits towards new and better ones, an antiseptic wipe may come in handy.The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.


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