Moral inconsistency

Effron, D and Helgason, B A (2023) Moral inconsistency. In: Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Elsevier, pp. 1-72. ISBN 9780443133640

Abstract

We review a program of research examining three questions. First, why is the morality of people’s behavior inconsistent across time and situations? We point to people’s ability to convince themselves they have a license to sin, and we demonstrate various ways people use their behavioral history and others – individuals, groups, and society – to feel licensed. Second, why are people’s moral judgments of others’ behavior inconsistent? We highlight three factors: motivation, imagination, and repetition. Third, when do people tolerate others who fail to practice what they preach? We argue that people only condemn others’ inconsistency as hypocrisy if they think the others are enjoying an “undeserved moral benefit.” Altogether, this program of research suggests that people are surprisingly willing to enact and excuse inconsistency in their moral lives. We discuss how to reconcile this observation with the foundational social psychological principle that people hate inconsistency.

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Item Type: Book Section
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2023 12:46
Date of first compliant deposit: 10 Oct 2022
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2024 01:29
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/2626
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