People Who Lie May Crave Mouthwash

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 6 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say the need to clean a “lying mouth” or “dirty” hands is a real one.

Doctoral candidate Spike W.S. Lee of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor says mom had it right when she needed to wash a “dirty mouth” out with soap.


“The references to ‘dirty hands’ or ‘dirty mouths’ in everyday language suggest that people think about abstract issues of moral purity in terms of more concrete experiences with physical purity,” Lee says in a statement.

Lee and Norbert Schwarz, a psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research at the Ross School of Business, find those who lied on the phone — leaving an untrue and malevolent voicemail — felt a stronger desire for mouthwash and were willing to pay more for it than those who lied via e-mail. However, those who lied on e-mail more highly valued hand sanitizer.

The researchers asked 87 students to play lawyers competing with “Chris” for a promotion and leave Chris a message by either voicemail or e-mail — either lying that they could not find his document or telling the truth that it had been found. The students were then asked to rate the desirability of several products including mouthwash and hand sanitizer.

The findings are published in the journal Psychological Science.

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