Hypocrisy and culture: Failing to practice what you preach receives harsher interpersonal reactions in independent (vs. interdependent) cultures

Daniel A. Effron, Hazel Rose Markus, Lauren M. Jackman, Yukiko Muramoto, Hamdi Muluk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Failing to practice what you preach is often condemned as hypocrisy in the West. Three experiments and a field survey document less negative interpersonal reactions to misalignment between practicing and preaching in cultures encouraging individuals’ interdependence (Asian and Latin American) than in those encouraging independence (North American and Western Europe). In Studies 1–3, target people received greater moral condemnation for a misdeed when it contradicted the values they preached than when it did not – but this effect was smaller among participants from Indonesia, India, and Japan than among participants from the USA. In Study 4, employees from 46 nations rated their managers. Overall, the more that employees perceived a manager's words and deeds as chronically misaligned, the less they trusted him or her – but the more employees’ national culture emphasized interdependence, the weaker this effect became. We posit that these cultural differences in reactions to failures to practice what one preaches arise because people are more likely to view the preaching as other-oriented and generous (vs. selfish and hypocritical) in cultural contexts that encourage interdependence. Study 2 provided meditational evidence of this possibility. We discuss implications for managing intercultural conflict, and for theories about consistency, hypocrisy, and moral judgment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-384
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume76
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

Keywords

  • Behavioral integrity
  • Culture
  • Hypocrisy
  • Inconsistency
  • Morality
  • Social judgment

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