Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

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

37 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2017  

Jillian J. Jordan

Yale University - Department of Psychology

Roseanna Sommers

Yale University, Law School, Students; Yale University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology, Students

Paul Bloom

Yale University

David G. Rand

Yale University

Date Written: 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.

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

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

Jillian 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, Students ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Yale University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology, Students ( email )

P.O. Box 208205
New Haven, CT 06520-8205
United States

Paul Bloom

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

David Rand

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.DaveRand.org

Paper statistics

Downloads
818
Rank
24,217
Abstract Views
3,876