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Hand Washing Boosts Optimism

Update Date: Oct 24, 2013 03:17 PM EDT

Besides protecting you from germs, washing your hands may make you more optimistic, according to a new study,

German researchers from the University of Cologne looked at how physical cleansing affects people after failure.

They found that participants who washed their hands after a task were more optimistic than those who did not wash their hands.

The latest study involved 98 participants in three groups. For the first part of the experiment, participants from two groups had to solve an impossible task.

Researchers found that participants in all three groups were optimistic that they would do better the second time. However, participants who washed their hands were significantly more optimistic.

However, researchers noted that in contrast to the usual finding that higher optimism results in better performance, the study revealed that people who did not wash their hands did considerably better on the second task than the group who washed their hands.

Researchers said that the performance of participants who washed their hands was comparable to those in the third group who had not experienced failure and had only taken part in the second test run.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest that while physical cleansing after failure may purge negative feelings, it lowers the motivation to try harder in a new test situation to rebuild one's own perception of competence.

The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science

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