This study confirmed the hypothesis that multitudinous barefoot-to-floor cleaning trials during elongated habitation periods do noticeably clean a varnished wooden floor. The cleaning person, Subject A1, took anti-psychotic medication which caused frequent pacing in the experimental chamber, his studio apartment. He is also the researcher and author of this report. He persistently escaped the aversion of miniscule particles adhering to his unclad feet by lifting his leg and brushing them off into a waste paper basket. ABAB conditions alternated among a clad-foot, non-cleaning, baseline measurement and a return to baseline condition and two unclad-foot-to-floor experimental cleaning conditions. The independent variable, A1's feet, varied between clad and unclad states. A1's mother, A2, measured for the dependent variable, floor cleanliness, by donning fresh white cotton gloves and swiping each finger across various locations on the floor. Relative floor dirtiness was determined by her cleanliness probes. A1 photographed the gloves and image processing software converted each black and white facsimile into a dirtiness percentage, grayness, total black pixels divided by total black and non-black pixels. The data revealed that the floor was much cleaner when he wore nothing on his feet.
Housekeeping is a chore. Human energy levels are depleted by sweeping, vacuuming, and damp mopping a wooden floor. Noisy vacuums disturb the neighbors. Liquid cleaning chemicals are emptied into the water system and equipment is costly to replace.
This study shows that the human foot is an easier, quieter, more economical, and more environmental alternative to conventional cleaning methods. To date, peer-reviewed journals in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) have no written reports specifically addressing the function of human body parts as cleaning apparati.
Further research is needed on the untapped potential of other appendices, such as 1) the lips and tongue for removing a layer of peanut butter from off of a stainless steel spoon which is resistant to soap-and-water peanut butter cleaning, 2) the finger nail rubbed over porcelain dishes being washed in the sink to remove stubborn, greasy gravy stains, 3) the easily-dried palm of the hand rubbed over the same clean, wet, dishes, combined with air drying them in a dish rack, in lieu of dampening and soiling a mold-spore-collecting kitchen towel, 4) the horizontally angled lower ridge of the forehead just below the eyebrows and just above the eye socket (used gently and carefully after no objection during an opthalmological consultation) to tightly secure to the skull the rim of a hat that keeps blowing off in the wind, and 5) the gap between the two front teeth for gripping an inserted strand of dental floss strung out over the lower lip and hanging down below the chin to free the fingers when the demand for another operation interrupts the flossing.
During the experiment, Subject A1 was a 45-year-old, 5 '8", apple-shaped, beefy, unpaid writer who had been living with his mother until he was 44. He is certificated and experienced as a "Teacher of the Handicapped" and he eventually became disabled from teaching. He had been diagnosed with a grandiose delusional disorder. He has been taking anti-psychotic medication since 1979 and his symptoms are mostly in remission. Besides weight gain, the only other major side effect of anti-psychotic medication has been has been chronically excessive and erratic sleeping patterns.
A2, A1's mother, was 68 at the time of the experiment. She is currently deceased. She had been a public elementary school teacher and reading specialist. She stood 5 '4" tall and presented a solid, stout, sturdy frame.
Both subjects wore glasses over their eyes.
The experiment took place in 2004 in the all-purpose room of A1's studio apartment which also contained a small bathroom and kitchen. The unit was one of four apartments in an old house with a wrap-around front porch set in a middle-class neighborhood near the boardwalk of a beach town at the New Jersey Shore.
The all-purpose-room floor was made of varnished oak slats. The kitchen floor was linoleum and the bathroom was tile.
The research followed the ABAB, alternating condition protocol under the following conditions. On the last day of the each period, Subject A2, A1's mother, collected primary data on the dependent variable, the cleanliness of the floor. A1's computer software converted the measurement of each of her probes into a mathematical representation of the cleanliness.
Condition A-1: In this pre-experimental, baseline measurement condition, A1's feet were almost always clad and he hadn't cleaned the floor with a mop, sponge, broom, vacuum, or any other conventional cleaning product for at least two months before A2 measured for cleanliness. Baseline cleanliness measurement: A-1: Day 1, the only day of A-1. Independent variable: clad feet.
Condition B-1: A1 lifted floor particles from off the floor and brushed them into a knee-high garbage pail with consistent, persistent multitudinous trials when he wore nothing on his feet. A2's cleanliness probe: B-1: Day 14, the final day of B-1. Independent variable: unclad feet.
Condition A-2: This return to baseline, control condition lasted for three months and thirteen days. A1's housecleaning, including by foot, had ceased almost entirely. When she returned, A2 probed for cleanliness on A-2: Day 103, the final day of A-2. Independent variable: clad feet.
Condition B-2:This was the return experiment condition. Cleanliness probe: B-2: Day 14, the final day of B-2. Independent variable: unclad feet.
This study began as real world interactions between David, the resident, Cornelia, his mother. Cornelia visited David's apartment on four occasions and encouraged him to clean his floor. Since she was a teacher as well as a mother she had ample behavior modification experience.
During each visit, she wore a white cotton glove and swiped it across the floor. She showed him the grime she had lifted from off the floor and encourage him to clean it. During the visits, he kept a diary and she gave him each glove she used to inspect the floor.
When her first visit revealed a dirty floor, David resolved to clean it and keep it clean so he developed a self-behavior modification barefoot-to-floor cleaning plan. He kept a diary of his progress.
Four times Cornelia visited and inspected the floor. She gave him all four of the gloves she had used.
He saved the gloves and the diary and analyzed the data after Cornelia had passed away peacefully from inside a room at a local hospital.
One year after she passed away, A1 analyzed the old gloves he had saved from each of her four inspections and the diary he had kept of his cleaning progress.
He set the baseline glove on top of a white sheet of paper, photographed the image in black and white, and uploaded it to his laptop. Its image processing software determined the percentage of gray on the glove, total black pixels divided by total black and non-black pixels. The percentage numeral rendered relative floor dirtiness, into a measurable, manipulable dependent variable. Clad feet versus unclad feet became the independent variable.
He believed that the intensity and direction (favorable or unfavorable) of her vocal reaction to the dirt on the floor was a function of the level of gray on the glove.
Tiny pebbles, grains of sand, dirt, dust bunnies, cookie crumbs, and broken potato chip pieces adhere to unclad soles of bilaterally symmetric organisms when they ambulate across wooden and linoleum surfaces. Mechanoreceptors respond to mechanical cutaneous pressure and distortion when particles adhere to the glabrous epidermis of the anatomical structure. Afferent neurons carry the nerve impulses to the central nervous system which mobilizes musculoskeletal responses.
Therefore, the hypothesis of this experiment emerged as follows: Persistent, continuous, and multitudinous barefoot-to-floor cleaning trials by a home-dweller, during elongated periods of habitation, will noticeably clean a varnished wooden floor. One measurement of a grime-free residence is the relative level of discoloration on a white cotton glove that has been swiped by the fingers inside of it across various locations of a varnished wood floor.
A-1: Clad-Foot, Unclean Floor, Baseline-Recording, Pre-Experiment Condition
Under baseline Condition A-1, Subject A1 wore socks, slippers, or shoes without going barefoot, except while showering, dressing, and undressing, for a minimum of two months while home in his apartment. Then one day, quite by surprise A2 entered the scene knocking at the front door. A1 invited A2 in and she said, "You haven't seen me in a month."
He said, "I'm sorry, but I've been writing a lot."
She said, "You haven't been making your bed or have you?"
He said, "Mother, if I made the bed every morning, as soon as I napped, I'd mess it up again. That's what a TV news anchor told Barbara Walters when she asked him why men don't make their beds."
Then she pulled a fresh white cotton glove over her left hand, bent down to her knees, swiped the floor with her index finger, stood up, repositioned herself to another location on the floor, and swiped it again with her middle finger. then she did the ring finger, the pinky, and the thumb across different spots on the floor.
She said, "David, you should be ashamed of yourself. Look at this filth!" Then she pounced up on her feet, walked out of the apartment, and shut the door behind her. She went out to her car, retrieved a bag of white gloves, opened the door, this time without knocking, pounced back inside, set the bag on top of his laptop, removed her dirty white glove, and threw it on the floor.
She said, "Stop writing about other people's behavior and analyze your own for a change!"
Then she walked out the door and departed the scene.
A1 lifted the glove up from the floor and studied it intently.
Udderly humiliated A1 resolved to never let it happen again, but he didn't like sweeping, vacuuming, or mopping, so he was hit with the hunch that he could make his mother happy by cleaning the floor with his feet. (See Freud, 1960.)
He wondered if the filth on the glove triggered in her an emotional disgust reaction. He supposed she would come back soon with another white glove and keep running her fingers over the floor.
B-1: Unclad-Foot-to-Floor-Cleaning Experiment Condition
Two weeks had passed since A-1: Day 1 while every day A paced in his bare naked feet. As expected, A2 entered exactly as expected on B-1: Day 14.
She said, "David, it smells nice in here. What have you done with your place?"
"I've been cleaning the floor, Mother."
"You have? What a good son! If you don't mind, I'm just going to see for myself."
"If you must, go ahead and make yourself happy."
Five times she dropped to her hands and knees and tested the floor. She inspected the glove and said, "David, you make me so happy. I knew you could do it!"
Then she stayed with her son for two hours when she emptied the icebox and cooked him some borscht.
David asked for the glove so the give him the glove and a big, fat hug and went home smiling from from ear to ear.
A-2: Clad-Foot, Non-Cleaning, Control Condition
On the first day of Condition A-2, Cornelia went away to France for her annual winter sabbatical. The house was poorly insulated. The temperature in the apartment fell. David donned slippers to keep his feet warm. While she was away, the potential threat of the conditioned aversive stimuli, dirty gloves and parental reproach, was removed, so he stopped cleaning his home until after she had returned.
Although the spoken words were different in form, after she arrived at the end of A-2, the function of their verbal behavior proceeded with only minor functional differences from the scene in A-1. This time, for example, instead of throwing the dirty glove on the floor, she tossed it at his face.
B-2: Return to Unclad-Foot-to-Floor-Cleaning Experiment Condition
B-2 was similar in form and function to B-1. This time David said to his mother, "I would like to save our glove as a memento of our reunification."
Subject A2 swiped all five of her glove-inserted fingers across twenty different locations of A1's wooden floor during four separate conditions of an ABAB double-return-to-baseline experiment with two clad-feet, non-cleaning conditions (A-1 and A-2) and two subsequent unclad feet, barefoot-to-floor cleaning conditions (B-1 and B-2), as described in the methods section of this report. Mathematical representations of the amount of dirt on the floor on the last day of each condition revealed the floor was cleaner when he kept his shoes, socks and slippers off his feet, paced around the room, and brushed off the particles that stuck to his feet into the garage pail and into the latrine. The hypothesis, that persistent, continuous, and multitudinous barefoot-to-floor cleaning trials by a home-dweller, during elongated periods of habitation, will noticeably clean a varnished wooden floor, is therefore temporarily confirmed, pending corroboration or falsification by additional behavior analytic experiments.
In its first test, the hypothesis has been confirmed. More corroborative study is necessary to determine whether or not it fits within the framework of the theoretical ABA system.
Post experimental trials have determined that the foot can reach floor locations where brooms cannot. Avoidance of mop-wringing and vacuum maintenance occurs. Delaying equipment replacement creates remunerative generalized conditioned positive reinforcement, tacted in Standard English as "money-saving" or in the U.S.A. slang vernacular as "being a tightwad."
Facile responses replace the inescapably painstaking exertion involved in the conventional methods thus rendering the method efficient and effective.
Follow-up anecdotal evidence shows that David has maintained perpetual foot cleaning responses consistently for fifteen years after they performed the initial experiment. David and Cornelia lived happily and cooperatively in nearby towns for fourteen year until she peacefully passed away from inside a room at a local hospital.
Members of the genus Homo should ask physicians about heath hazards before undertaking a foot-to-floor cleaning plan, wash their hands and feet before and after each operation, and take common sense safety precautions such as sweeping and vacuuming a floor after glass breakage and doffing shoes while penetrating an abode.
This experimenter's altruistic behavior is well-maintained by infrequent reinforcement schedules, so he will submit reports to open-access, peer-reviewed ABA journals instead of submitting the Human Foot to the U.S. Patent Office, so that fellow citizens of the international community can capitalize freely upon the findings.
Freud, S. (1960). Jokes and their relation to the unconscious (J. Strachey, Trans.). New York: W. W. Norton. (Original work published 1905)