Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
PsychologyOur news, events & seminars

On Failing to Practice What You Preach: When is Inconsistency Judged as Hypocrisy? Seminar

Time:
12:30 - 13:30
Date:
5 November 2015
Venue:
University of Southampton Highfield Campus Building 44 (Shackleton) Room 3031/3033

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email S.McNally@soton.ac.uk .

Event details

People abhor hypocrisy, which is often defined as a failure to practice what you preach. Being perceived as a hypocrite can ruin politicians’ careers, undermine managers’ authority, and earn people harsh punishments.

People abhor hypocrisy, which is often defined as a failure to practice what you preach. Being perceived as a hypocrite can ruin politicians’ careers, undermine managers’ authority, and earn people harsh punishments. Yet few people achieve perfect consistency between what they practice and what they preach, and not all inconsistent behavior seems hypocritical. This talk presents three lines of research examining when and why inconsistent behavior invites ascriptions of hypocrisy and moral condemnation. The first line examines what entitles people to advise others to “do as I say, not as I’ve done” without being seen as hypocrites. Specifically, I find that people have standing to preach against misdeeds they have practiced if they have suffered for practicing them.

The second line of research shows how employment relationships can make people vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy. Employees who contravene values that their organization preaches – even if the employees themselves have not preached them – receive harsh condemnation for hypocrisy by outside observers. The third line demonstrates how culture moderates judgments of hypocrisy: misalignment between practicing and preaching receives more severe condemnation in Western than in Eastern cultures. I conclude by discussing how lay people’s conceptualization of hypocrisy is more nuanced than previously assumed.

Speaker information

Dr Daniel A Effron, London Business School. Daniel A. Effron is an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School. Previously, he taught at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and was a fellow of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. He earned a Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford University, and a B.A. in psychology from Yale University (magna cum laude). His research examines the psychological processes that allow people to act unethically without feeling unethical. He also researches how people form judgments of others' wrongdoing. His work has appeared in such scholarly publications as Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and has been covered by such popular media outlets as the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. He has been honored with the MBA Class of 2015 Teaching Award from London Business School, and a Dissertation Research Award from the American Psychological Association.

Privacy Settings