Cleaning hands reboots brain, study suggests

The act of physically cleaning one's hands may facilitate more flexible thinking, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

For the study, researchers encouraged participants to focus on certain goals by leading them through word games or a short survey. Participants were then either immediately challenged to evaluate the primed goals or were given a cleansing wipe to wash their hands. When challenged to evaluate the primed goals, participants who were given a cleansing wipe were less likely to think of the previously primed goal in favor of new goals introduced by the researchers.

"These findings have implications for the flexibility of goal pursuit," wrote the study's authors. "More broadly, our procedural perspective generates novel predictions about the scope and mechanisms of cleansing effects and may help integrate embodied and related phenomena."

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