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Issue 4/2012

Okładka pierwszego numeru czasopisma Psychologia Społeczna


Activation of a stereotype of an immoral person facilitates 
the cleanliness motive

Michał Parzuchowski, Konrad Bocian, Wiesław Baryła

Bodily purity and physical cleanliness is closely related to a large variety of moral judgments. Moral transgressions are often perceived to be unclean thus elicit the desire to cleanse. We propose, that desire to cleanse can be induced by thinking about immoral behaviors of others, which leads to i) higher preference for cleansing products; ii) behavioral action of cleaning to protect possible contamination. In two experiments participants were primed with an immoral target person (a pedophile) or a control moral target (an altruist, a nun, or a secretary). In each case, the results showed that immoral behaviors of other people can increase the desire to cleanse. In Experiment 1, participants that imagined a pedophile showed higher preference for cleansing products, than participants in the control groups. In Experiment 2, students who filled a questionnaire about personality traits of a stereotypical pedophile visited University’s lavatories twice as often as participants in a control group. Taken together, these data indicate that merely thinking about foul behaviors of others can activate a motive for cleanliness.

Keywords: cleanliness, morality, disgust, stereotype activation

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