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home » articles » "The Psychology of Ritual Washing"

The Psychology of Ritual Washing

Rituals that cleanse the body to purify the soul are at the core of religions worldwide. Now scientists find these ceremonies apparently have a psychological basis; that it actually helped people absolve their consciences.

According to a LiveScience report, Katie Liljenquist and her colleague, Chen-Bo Zhong, at Northwestern University in Chicago did experiments to show that people who were thinking about their past unethical deeds were more likely than a control group to think about soap and other cleaning products and more likely to rate cleaning products over other types of products.

Liljenquist explains that "Past studies have shown there are definite overlaps in the brain in the regions stimulated by moral disgust and physical disgust, the kind you get to potentially bad food or other things you'd evolve to want to avoid."

The researchers reported their findings in the Sept. 8 issue of the journal, Science.

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