Newswire: Justice: Part of This Complete Breakfast

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Newswire: Justice: Part of This Complete Breakfast

Eleanor Greene

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The power of positive thinking is well known, but who knew it could mean seeing Jesus’ face on a grilled cheese sandwich? According to a new study from psychologists at NYU, seeing Jesus or other “morally relevant stimuli” in unexpected places relates to a person’s subconscious need for justice. These stimuli often appear to people when they’re distracted by moral concerns or stressful situations in their personal lives, like a sick family member. In other words, when bad things are happening, people want to see Jesus on their potato chips.

At least a little bit. A _New York Times_ article compared this phenomenon to walking down a street when you’re really hungry. Normally, you wouldn’t notice the smell of a food truck all the way down the street or spot someone eating muffin at the bus stop. But, now that you’re hungry, you’re much more likely to notice these little things that reinforce how you are already feeling.

This is the “moral pop-out effect,” and the forthcoming study links it to a subconscious need for justice. During the study, participants were shown one of two versions of a news article—an “unjust” scenario where a murderer is at large and a “just” one where the murderer is arrested. People who read the unjust article were more likely to recognize and remember “moral words” in the article than people who read the just article. Researchers believe that this demonstrates participants’ subconscious effort to restore justice to the situation.

So next time you’re making breakfast and see the Virgin Mary, ask yourself: deep down, was I looking for this? And then sell it on eBay before heading out in the pursuit of justice.