Is cleanliness next to abstinence? The effect of cleanliness priming on attitudes towards harm reduction strategies for people with substance use disorders [2020]

Can exposure to a cleanliness prime affect moral judgements towards harm reduction strategies (HRS) for individuals with substance use disorders? Our research examined (a) the effect of a cleanliness prime on attitudes towards HRS and (b) whether this effect would be attenuated by a brief educational presentation. Participants were randomly assigned to a priming condition and an educational presentation condition. Results demonstrated that (a) the cleanliness prime did not shift attitudes towards HRS, however, (b) the educational presentations significantly shifted attitudes to be more positive after the Harm Reduction presentation and more negative after the Healthy Living presentation. The literature on priming is mixed and our results support a growing body of research challenging the robustness of cleanliness priming and also demonstrates that brief presentations can change attitudes. Our research has implications for education on the benefits of HRS in reducing disease transmission, refuse in the community, and overdose deaths.

Tiana Ciccarelli, Molly Soberman, Taylor Leshuk, Hannah Cole, Farhana Afreen, Laurie A. Manwell
International Journal of Psychology, 16 August 2020