Measuring state mental contamination and its effect on social distance.


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Mental contamination is a contamination fear that is associated with feeling dirty without direct contact to a contaminant and is often accompanied by negative emotions. Little research has explored mental contamination outside of a clinical population or applied it to social psychological concepts. The purpose of the current study was to develop an experimental manipulation and measurement for state mental contamination, and then apply them to explore the role of state mental contamination on social distance toward outgroups. Participants for the studies were adults recruited from the internet. The first experiment established the manipulability and measurement of mental contamination, and the second experiment showed that state mental contamination had little to no effect on social distance toward outgroups. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.



Mental contamination. Prejudice. Attitudes. Experimental methods.