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An interesting study came out of Plymouth, England this week:

Plymouth, England, December 1: Being too particular about cleanliness can make you a lenient judge, says a strange but interesting British study. Dr. Simone Schnall, a psychologist at University of Plymouth, stated that people who tend to wash their hands before making judgments are more likely to pass relaxed verdicts. The study, published in Psychological Science's December issue, suggests that impurity can amplify the sternness of moral decisions.

Dr. Schnall's research asked 44 participants to rate certain actions on a morality scale, where half of the people were instructed to wash hands before rating. "Trainspotting," a movie based on heroin addicts, was shown to all the participants, after which they were asked to rate certain actions shown in the movie on a nine-point morality scale starting from 'acceptable' and ending at 'very wrong'.

The movie included actions like stealing money, abusing animals, eating a dog amongst a series of offenses included in the study.

On being asked for judgments over these actions, almost all the 44 participants declared the actions as negative. However, those with clean hands announced less stringent decisions on those actions.

From Ed Vasicek's Sermon "Christmas: Happy Are the Humble"

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