A scientific study has shown that washing your hands could make your mind clearer.
A couple of researchers at the University of Michigan, Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz, conducted a study asking students to choose between two objects out of several they had ranked.
When students washed their hands after making the choice, they seemed to be less worried about their choice. Students who did not wash their hands behaved as if they needed to justify their choices.
Apparently justification is really important as it removes the cognitive dissonance choosing creates. If we don’t do this, we tend to fret about whether we decided correctly.
This can be seen on news groups where people who have wasted huge amounts of cash on an Apple computer spend a large amount of time dispelling their cognitive dissonance about the choice by shouting at people who made more reasonable choices.
However they would feel a lot better if they simply washed their hands, and would probably make less of a tit of themselves.
The authors think this indicates that physical cleanliness may have a broader impact on individual psychology than previously thought.
Handwashing has been part of human rituals since Pontius Pilate washed his hands during the Christ trial of the 1st century. However it does mean that obsessive compulsives who spend hours washing their hands should be totally clear about any decisions they make.