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      Does Cleanliness Influence Moral Judgments? : A Direct Replication of Schnall, Benton, and Harvey (2008)

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          Abstract

          Schnall, Benton, and Harvey (2008) hypothesized that physical cleanliness reduces the severity of moral judgments. In support of this idea, they found that individuals make less severe judgments when they are primed with the concept of cleanliness (Exp. 1) and when they wash their hands after experiencing disgust (Exp. 2). We conducted direct replications of both studies using materials supplied by the original authors. We did not find evidence that physical cleanliness reduced the severity of moral judgments using samples sizes that provided over .99 power to detect the original effect sizes. Our estimates of the overall effect size were much smaller than estimates from Experiment 1 (original d = −0.60, 95% CI [−1.23, 0.04], N = 40; replication d = −0.01, 95% CI [−0.28, 0.26], N = 208) and Experiment 2 (original d = −0.85, 95% CI [−1.47, −0.22], N = 43; replication d = 0.01, 95% CI [−.34, 0.36], N = 126). These findings suggest that the population effect sizes are probably substantially smaller than the original estimates. Researchers investigating the connections between cleanliness and morality should therefore use large sample sizes to have the necessary power to detect subtle effects.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Things rank and gross in nature: a review and synthesis of moral disgust.

          Much like unpalatable foods, filthy restrooms, and bloody wounds, moral transgressions are often described as "disgusting." This linguistic similarity suggests that there is a link between moral disgust and more rudimentary forms of disgust associated with toxicity and disease. Critics have argued, however, that such references are purely metaphorical, or that moral disgust may be limited to transgressions that remind us of more basic disgust stimuli. Here we review the evidence that moral transgressions do genuinely evoke disgust, even when they do not reference physical disgust stimuli such as unusual sexual behaviors or the violation of purity norms. Moral transgressions presented verbally or visually and those presented as social transactions reliably elicit disgust, as assessed by implicit measures, explicit self-report, and facial behavior. Evoking physical disgust experimentally renders moral judgments more severe, and physical cleansing renders them more permissive or more stringent, depending on the object of the cleansing. Last, individual differences in the tendency to experience disgust toward physical stimuli are associated with variation in moral judgments and morally relevant sociopolitical attitudes. Taken together, these findings converge to support the conclusion that moral transgressions can in fact elicit disgust, suggesting that moral cognition may draw upon a primitive rejection response. We highlight a number of outstanding issues and conclude by describing 3 models of moral disgust, each of which aims to provide an account of the relationship between moral and physical disgust. © 2013 American Psychological Association
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            Washing away postdecisional dissonance.

            After choosing between two alternatives, people perceive the chosen alternative as more attractive and the rejected alternative as less attractive. This postdecisional dissonance effect was eliminated by cleaning one's hands. Going beyond prior purification effects in the moral domain, physical cleansing seems to more generally remove past concerns, resulting in a metaphorical "clean slate" effect.
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              Scientific Utopia: II. Restructuring incentives and practices to promote truth over publishability

              An academic scientist's professional success depends on publishing. Publishing norms emphasize novel, positive results. As such, disciplinary incentives encourage design, analysis, and reporting decisions that elicit positive results and ignore negative results. Prior reports demonstrate how these incentives inflate the rate of false effects in published science. When incentives favor novelty over replication, false results persist in the literature unchallenged, reducing efficiency in knowledge accumulation. Previous suggestions to address this problem are unlikely to be effective. For example, a journal of negative results publishes otherwise unpublishable reports. This enshrines the low status of the journal and its content. The persistence of false findings can be meliorated with strategies that make the fundamental but abstract accuracy motive - getting it right - competitive with the more tangible and concrete incentive - getting it published. We develop strategies for improving scientific practices and knowledge accumulation that account for ordinary human motivations and self-serving biases.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                zsp
                Social Psychology
                Hogrefe Publishing
                1864-9335
                2151-2590
                May 2014
                2014
                : 45
                : 3
                : 209-215
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
                Author notes
                David J. Johnson, Department of Psychology, 316 Physics, Rm 244C, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA, djjohnson@ 123456smcm.edu
                Article
                zsp_45_3_209
                10.1027/1864-9335/a000186
                Product
                Self URI (journal-page): https://econtent.hogrefe.com/loi/zsp
                Categories
                Replication

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