Observing the Macbeth effect: an exploratory study examining the association between threatened moral purity and cleansing behaviour

Simpson, Micheal (2012). Observing the Macbeth effect: an exploratory study examining the association between threatened moral purity and cleansing behaviour Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Simpson, Micheal
Thesis Title Observing the Macbeth effect: an exploratory study examining the association between threatened moral purity and cleansing behaviour
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-10-22
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Michael Philipp
Total pages 91
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Two experiments were conducted to observe the Macbeth effect, the concept that threats to moral purity increase motivations to physically cleanse, and that physical cleansing works to restore moral purity (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006). The Macbeth effect builds upon the conceptual metaphor theory of embodied cognition, explaining humans’ emotional and cognitive understanding of concepts as metaphors describing physical experience (Lakoff & Johnson, 2003). This study therefore, attempted to examine the metaphor of “morality as purity”, giving meaning to the ideas of the clean conscience and washing away sin. In the first experiment, 50 participants were randomly assigned to moral, control, or immoral conditions to examine whether threats to moral purity (immoral recall) showed associations to cleansing, providing evidence for the Macbeth effect. The results found no significant differences in hand sanitiser usage between moral or immoral conditions of memory recall. A second study was performed to examine whether the act of cleansing, not the amount of hand sanitiser used, was able to restore moral purity. The results found no differences in the reduction of feelings of immorality for participants who cleansed or did not cleanse. Furthermore, participants who cleansed were not shown to have restored moral purity, where participants in the cleansed conditions were equally likely to engage in further moral restorative behaviours (e.g., volunteerism). The current research furthers the literature on the Macbeth effect and the conceptual metaphor theory of embodied cognition, and may help in understanding the association between morality and cleansing.
Keyword Threatened moral purity
Cleansing behaviour

 
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Created: Fri, 08 Mar 2013, 10:53:25 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology