Feeling dejected? You might want to turn on the sink. Washing your hands, a study suggests, can be emotionally cleansing: It may help us feel more optimistic after a failure. Researchers assigned an "impossible task" to two groups of people; they failed, of course. Then, scientists told one group to wash their hands. Both groups showed optimism they could achieve the task on a second try, but the hand-washers were far more confident than their peers were, National Geographic reports.
"Washing seems to work like a ritual which we use to close a matter, and this, in turn, can have several effects on the mental level," says researcher Kai Kaspar. The downside: Those who washed their hands actually performed worse on their second attempt than did the others. Kaspar suggests the washing may remove one's drive to achieve, though National Geographic notes that there are other ways to explain the phenomenon. (Read more handwashing stories.)