Dirty Socks, Dirty Talk, Dirty Thoughts:
Psychological Cleanliness and Other
Lab director: Professor Spike Lee Research area: Social & Cognitive Psychology, Consumer Behavior
Lab manager: Ping Dong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What is it about?
Lady MacBeth was obsessed with washing her hands—perhaps for good reasons. Recent psychological research shows that hand-washing effectively reduces guilt (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006).
Apparently, physical cleansing makes people feel morally cleaner. People across cultures also use words such as dirty and disgusting to stress their derogation of immoral acts and actors (e.g., “he has all these dirty thoughts,” “you’re a disgusting person”). Our research explores psychological cleanliness at physical, moral, and symbolic levels. Physical examples are dirt, mud, and vomit; moral examples are bribery, injustice, and cheating; symbolic examples are money, aesthetics, and politics. In addition, we test whether people can wash away non-moral mental residues (Lee & Schwarz, 2010, 2011) such as emotional ups and downs, good and bad luck, etc.
Beyond cleanliness, we are investigating numerous cognitive metaphors such as “something smells fishy” (social suspicion), “where do you draw the line” (mental boundary), and “she’s a warm person” (amiable personality). Popular media will be reviewed to deepen our understanding of metaphorical constructs and their psychological effects. Personal and cultural experiences would contribute to hypothesis generation and testing.
What will I do?
We offer training and research experience that pave the way for graduate school application. Voluntary time commitment ranges from 3 to 12 hours per week. Joining this lab means you will
(1) collaborate with graduate students to design experiments
(2) run experiments in lab, on campus, and at public locations
(3) review popular media
(4) review scholarly literature
(5) analyze media, literature, personal and cultural experience, and experimental data
What can I learn?
You will learn
(1) how to turn a thought (“my insight”) into an experiment (“my project”)
(2) how to deepen your understanding of a concept
(3) how to use your personal experience to inform research ideas
(4) how to apply research ideas to your daily experience
(5) practical skills necessary for research at both undergraduate and graduate levels (e.g., measurement of human characteristics, statistics, conceptualization)
(6) how to apply to graduate school and thrive as a psychological scientist
Am I eligible?
We are looking for psychology majors eager to generate knowledge through research. Students should be highly motivated, organized and reliable, detail-oriented, hard-working, genuinely interested in gaining research experience, and capable of working as a part of a team of researchers. Students who want to make a two- semester commitment are especially encouraged to apply. Previous research experience is preferred though not required. Interested students should email their resume and unofficial transcript (copied from ROSI, pasted in a Word file) to our lab manager (email@example.com).