Keywords: Morality, guilt, cleanliness, Macbeth Effect, embodied and grounded cognition.
This study explores the relationship between physical and moral cleanliness («Macbeth Effect»). Participants had to wash their hands or to manipulate a cube, then to read a story about an immoral or a neutral situation and at last to evaluate the semantic association between pairs of words. The pairs either included a term related to morality and one to cleanliness (e.g. guilt-soap), or a term related to morality/cleanliness and a general one, or other control terms. In the manipulation condition RTs were faster with the immoral story, while in the washing condition there was no difference between the two kinds of story. Therefore, the act of physical washing had likely rendered the immoral story «neutral» similarly to the control story.