If you're the kind of person who has a neat and tidy workspace and bedroom, chances are, you're probably more ethical than your disorganized neighbour.
This is according to research out of a combined marketing study from Rice University, Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University, which looked at how emotional expressions of disgust can have an impact on our behaviour. It turns out, if someone is feeling repulsed by something (be it a smell or a situation), they'll start acting more selfishly and dishonestly.
"As an emotion, disgust is designed as a protection," explained Vikas Mittal, a professor of marketing at Rice. "When people feel disgusted, they tend to remove themselves from a situation .. Small cheating starts to occur: If I'm disgusted and more focused on myself and I need to lie a little bit to gain a small advantage, I'll do that. That's the underlying mechanism."
In order to promote feelings of disgust, the researchers had participants divided into three groups: one that was asked to rate products like anti-diarrhea medicine, tampons and cat litter; one where people wrote an essay about their most disgusting memory; and one where people watched that toilet scene from "Trainspotting" that you don't even want to think about.
Participants were given further experiments that evaluated how likely they were to lie and cheat to get money. Those who had said they'd experienced disgust in the prior part of the study were more likely to do so. When the researchers asked participants to think about something clean, like a cleaning product or body wash, they found the people in the study were less likely to engage in unethical behaviours.
The conclusion they drew was that if you're grossed out — say, by garbage piling up on your desk or a general state of messiness around you — you're more likely to take shortcuts to get what you want. They pointed out this could be particularly pertinent for managers in offices, who may want to promote cleaner work spaces.
Of course, that's not the only advantage to being organized. Thanks to your stellar time management skills, you're also inevitably more productive, as well as more able to handle the unexpected when it arrives, according to blog Unclutterer.
But if a good ethical compass and increased productivity aren't reason enough to make sure you keep things tidy around you, think about this way: do you really want to be known as the slob of the office?
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