Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2897313
 


 



Why Do We Hate Hypocrites? Evidence for a Theory of False Signaling


Jillian J. Jordan


Yale University - Department of Psychology

Roseanna Sommers


Yale University - Law School; Yale University - Department of Psychology

Paul Bloom


Yale University

David G. Rand


Yale University

January 11, 2017


Abstract:     
Why do people judge hypocrites, who condemn immoral behaviors that they in fact engage in, so negatively? We propose that hypocrites are disliked because their condemnation sends a false signal about their personal conduct, deceptively suggesting that they behave morally. We show that verbal condemnation signals moral goodness (Study 1) and does so even more convincingly than directly stating that one behaves morally (Study 2). We then demonstrate that people judge hypocrites negatively — even more negatively than people who directly make false statements about their morality (Study 3). Finally, we show that “honest” hypocrites — who avoid false signaling by admitting to committing the condemned transgression — are not perceived negatively even though their actions contradict their stated values (Study 4). Critically, the same is not true of hypocrites who engage in false signaling but admit to unrelated transgressions (Study 5). Together, our results support a false-signaling theory of hypocrisy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: moral psychology, condemnation, vignettes, deception, social signaling


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Date posted: January 11, 2017  

Suggested Citation

Jordan, Jillian J. and Sommers, Roseanna and Bloom, Paul and Rand, David G., Why Do We Hate Hypocrites? Evidence for a Theory of False Signaling (January 11, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2897313

Contact Information

Jillian J. Jordan (Contact Author)
Yale University - Department of Psychology ( email )
P.O. Box 208205
New Haven, CT 06520-8205
United States
Roseanna Sommers
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

Yale University - Department of Psychology ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
Paul Bloom
Yale University ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
David G. Rand
Yale University ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.DaveRand.org
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