The Trouble with Hypocrites
The reason we react so negatively to hypocrites may not be exactly what you think. New research, forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science, suggests that the reason people dislike hypocrites is that their outspoken moralizing falsely signals their own virtue (Tweet it!). In other words, their misleading talk implies that they behave in certain admirable ways when they actually do not.
The authors offer the example of a co-worker who presents himself as an environmental activist. “He hounds people to turn off their office lights when they step out for lunch and gets on their case if they throw recyclables in the trash. He protests when people print documents single-sided... Now imagine you discover that your co-worker, when at home, regularly fails to do any of these things. You promptly revoke the moral credit you gave him for his activism…his outspoken moralizing falsely conveys his own virtue, earning him undue reputational benefits —and at the expense of the individuals whom he publicly shames. He would enhance his credibility by simply admitting that he sometimes falls short of these ideals himself.”
Have you known people you consider to be hypocritical? What is it about their stances that you find most disturbing? To join the conversation, click "comments" below on our Community of Practice Forum.
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3/7/2017 12:08:18 pm
Perhaps too we look for and up to moral exemplars and their exposure as having the same frailties as the rest of us seems ,not just a betrayal, but a sad confirmation that our weaknesses are universal
3/7/2017 10:44:04 pm
Wow. What an insightful thought -- and a poetic description of truth. Thanks Peter.
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