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Moral hypocrisy: appearing moral to oneself without being so.

Abstract

How can people appear moral to themselves when they fail to act morally? Two self-deception strategies were considered: (a) misperceive one's behavior as moral and (b) avoid comparing one's behavior with moral standards. In Studies 1 and 2 the authors documented the importance of the 2nd strategy but not the 1st. Among participants who flipped a coin to assign themselves and another participant "fairly" to tasks, even a clearly labeled coin that prevented misperception did not produce a fair result (Study 1). Inducing behavior-standard comparison through self-awareness did (Study 2). Study 3 qualified the self-awareness effect: When moral standards were not salient before acting, self-awareness no longer increased alignment of behavior with standards. Instead, it increased alignment of standards with behavior and produced less moral action. Overall, results showed 3 different faces of moral hypocrisy.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence 66045-0001, USA.

    , , ,

    Source

    MeSH

    Adult
    Female
    Humans
    Male
    Morals
    Random Allocation
    Self Concept

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    10510506

    Citation

    TY - JOUR T1 - Moral hypocrisy: appearing moral to oneself without being so. AU - Batson,C D, AU - Thompson,E R, AU - Seuferling,G, AU - Whitney,H, AU - Strongman,J A, PY - 1999/10/8/pubmed PY - 1999/10/8/medline PY - 1999/10/8/entrez SP - 525 EP - 37 JF - Journal of personality and social psychology JO - J Pers Soc Psychol VL - 77 IS - 3 N2 - How can people appear moral to themselves when they fail to act morally? Two self-deception strategies were considered: (a) misperceive one's behavior as moral and (b) avoid comparing one's behavior with moral standards. In Studies 1 and 2 the authors documented the importance of the 2nd strategy but not the 1st. Among participants who flipped a coin to assign themselves and another participant "fairly" to tasks, even a clearly labeled coin that prevented misperception did not produce a fair result (Study 1). Inducing behavior-standard comparison through self-awareness did (Study 2). Study 3 qualified the self-awareness effect: When moral standards were not salient before acting, self-awareness no longer increased alignment of behavior with standards. Instead, it increased alignment of standards with behavior and produced less moral action. Overall, results showed 3 different faces of moral hypocrisy. SN - 0022-3514 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/10510506/Moral_hypocrisy:_appearing_moral_to_oneself_without_being_so_ L2 - http://content.apa.org/journals/psp/77/3/525 ER -