Friday, November 16, 2018

Macbeth Effect

The Macbeth Effect is a finding that people engage in cleansing thoughts and even behavior when they experience a threat to their sense of moral purity. The authors, Chen Bo- Zhong and Katie Liljenquist, reported results in a 2006 article in Science titled, "Washing Away Your Sins: Threatened Morality and Physical Cleansing."

The Macbeth Effect was challenged in a 2018 article by Siev, Zuckerman, and Siev. Their meta-analysis did not support a strong effect. They suggested their may be an effect under certain conditions.

The effect was named Macbeth based on a work by Shakespear (link to a summary of Macbeth).


Siev, J., Zuckerman, S., Sieve, J.J. (2018). The relationship between immorality and cleansing: A meta-analysis of the Macbeth effect. Social Psychology, 49, 303-309.

Zhong, C-B. & Liljenquist, K. (2006). Washing away your sins: Threatened morality and physical cleansing. Science, 313, 1451-1452.

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