UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


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

23 March 2017, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Event Information


Room 311, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP

Speaker: Dr Daniel Effron, London Business School

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.

Time: 3pm, 23rd March 2017

Venue: Room 311, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP