ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

›› 2012, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (6): 926-934.

• 研究前沿 • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Moral Hypocrisy: An Opportunistic Adaptive Strategy

WU Bao-Pei;GAO Shu-Ling   

  1. (1 Department of Educational Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
    (2 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
  • Received:2011-11-14 Revised:1900-01-01 Online:2012-06-15 Published:2012-06-15
  • Contact: WU Bao-Pei

Abstract: Moral hypocrisy refers to both the intrapersonal discrepancy between what individuals think is moral and how they actually behave, and the interpersonal discrepancy between the acceptability of one’s own moral transgression and the same one committed by others. Researchers usually comprehend moral hypocrisy from moral motive, cognitive dissonance, and psychoanalysis perspectives, attribute deceit and self–deception as indispensable parts of moral hypocrisy, and show that induced hypocrisy leads to attitude or behavior change in line with individuals’ public commitment. From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, moral hypocrisy is an opportunistic adaptive strategy, evolved in the group living situations, motivating people to appear to be moral so that they are accepted by other in–group members and behave immorally when they are not noticed by others to reap more survival and reproduction resources. Many factors shape moral hypocrisy perception and judgment — specific emotions, power, presentation order of statements and inconsistent behavior, cognitive control and individual difference variables. Intrapersonal moral hypocrisy may entail self–deception, whereas interpersonal moral hypocrisy may entail deceit. Many understudied factors which may also influence moral hypocrisy, such as narcissism, shame, Machiavellian intelligence, emotion intelligence, and cultural variables, should be investigated in the future research.

Key words: moral hypocrisy, hypocrisy, moral judgment, cognitive dissonance, social cognition, evolutionary psychology