Cleanliness and godliness: Mutual association between two kinds of personal purity

Jesse Lee Preston, Ryan S. Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purity rituals (such as baptism, mikvah, and ablution) are an important component of many religious practices. These practices not only help protect the faithful from physical contaminants, but also bestow symbolic purity and maintain the sanctity of sacred objects. The present work examines the association between religion and cleanliness, as two representations of personal purity. Religious primes were found to activate cleanliness concepts in a word-stem completion task (Study 1), and increased the subjective value of cleaning products (Study 2). In a final study, cleaning primes increased ratings of religious value. These studies suggest a mutual association between religiousness and cleanliness, and that each may activate the other as goals for personal purity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1368
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Disgust
  • Embodiment
  • Purity
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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