We're constantly told to be true to ourselves, but does it really matter if we're not?
Researchers from Harvard Business School wanted to know, and they discovered something pretty phenomenal: The human drive to live in accordance with our values is so powerful and innate in us that we actually feel disgusted by ourselves when we do something fake.
This feeling of impurity leaves us with a desire to clear our conscience by performing good deeds.
In five experiments, researchers found that people prompted to recall times they were inauthentic tended to feel more "impure" than those who’d remembered a time they were true to themselves. They were also more likely to help the experimenter with an extra survey, as if trying to make up for what they'd done.
This feeling isn't a "fleeting or cursory phenomenon," said co-author Maryam Kouchaki. It stays deep within us.
Perhaps even more interestingly, the "inauthentic" participants were less likely to do something charitable if they were given hand sanitizer — suggesting that feeling gross on the inside makes you feel gross on the outside, too.
Moral of the story? Be yourself. It'll scrub you cleaner than a loofah ever could.