Wiping away who I was : the mediating role of self-dissociation in the metaphorical cleansing effect
Teo, Fong Chin
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Does cleansing oneself removes only stains and dirt? In fact, past research have shown evidence of physical cleansing removing also guilt, moral impurity, post-decisional dissonance and luck. These findings converge into the clean slate effect of physical cleansing, which means by cleansing oneself, one’s past will be wiped away, including undesired and desired past. Present study attempts to shed light on the underlying process that mediates this effect. Similar to how temporal landmarks categorize temporal space into different periods thus redefine one’s temporal selves, we hypothesize that the cleansing behaviour triggers psychological dissociation of temporal selves (i.e., past and current self) which then leads to the clean slate effect. Participants were primed with sense of guilt and were assigned into two conditions (i.e., cleansing condition and non-cleansing condition). Those in the cleansing condition cleansed their hands using antiseptic wipe while those in non-cleansing condition did not. Then, participants completed a battery of surveys, which included their preferences for products, and also a Venn-diagram self-dissociation survey. Surprisingly, opposed to several past findings, physical cleansing is found to have no significant effect on participants’ preferences for cleansing products, the degree of dissociation of their temporal selves and their willingness to volunteer. However, these null results are explained and insights are derived to assist further research. Consequently, we suggest that culture might be an unidentified moderator in the clean slate effect of physical cleansing and cultural variability is ought to be considered during operationalization of variables in future studies.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University