Moral hypocrisy: Rethinking the construct




Hale, Willie J.

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As part of a larger project concerned with perceptions of moral hypocrisy, N=302 participants provided two written examples: the first, of a time when someone called the participant a hypocrite; and the second, of a time that the participant perceived someone else's behavior as hypocritical. These examples were coded and analyzed along a variety of dimensions. The primary purpose of the study was to determine whether real-world examples that individuals identify as hypocrisy are basic functions of inconsistency, consistent with the construct's narrow use in psychology, or if said examples contain other important defining features besides hypocrisy's inherent inconsistency. A typology approach was used to code the examples, based loosely on an article by Crisp and Cowton (1994) who argue that distinctions can be made between four forms of hypocrisy: inconsistency, pretense, blame, and complacency. A secondary purpose was to uncover reliable actor-observer differences in perceptions of hypocrisy. Results related to the primary purpose of this study indicated that the four forms posited by Crisp and Cowton actually do exist in real world examples of both self and others' hypocrisy. Interestingly, a new fifth form of hypocrisy emerged from the data, adding nuance to the initial hypothesis. In addition, several actor-observer differences arose in the examples and are discussed.


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Actor/Observer, Blame, Complacency, Hypocrisy, Inconsistency, Pretense