Cleanliness Creates Godliness

27 Nov

Another interesting article over at Epiphenom:

Recruiting subjects through the Mechanical Turk, they found that subjects primed with religious concepts tended to complete ambiguous, incomplete words by filling in the blanks to make a word related to cleanliness (e.g., they completed W_ SH as WASH, rather than WISH).

In another study, they found that subjects primed with religion rated cleaning products as relatively more desirable than other products. As with the first study, this effect seemed equally strong regardless of how religious the subjects were to begin with.

But the third study was the most interesting. This one looked at the reverse effect: whether a feeling of cleanliness can make you more religious.

In this study, the subjects were asked to copy out and mentalize a paragraph – either describing being grubby or being clean.The ones made to think about cleanliness later reported that religious beliefs were more important to them.

In other words, just thinking about being clean made these people feel like they were more religious!

This makes sense to me, since there’s no real “separation” between mind and body. Every emotion we feel is physical, and if that is so then mental disgust should have the same reaction as physical disgust and vice versa.

However, something like this would not make sense if mind-body dualism were true.

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in cognitive science


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