Facing the Embarrassment that Accompanies Hypocrisy

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Facing the Embarrassment that Accompanies Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is an innate nature of humans / Photo by Getty Images


Humans are not always able to act consistently. In fact, it is natural to have a slip-up or two. Due to these inconsistencies, some people tend to criticize people for their behavior. However, the irony is it is common for people to condemn others for doing something that they themselves are guilty of, Daniel Stalder, a social psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, states.

Even though hypocrisy is a widespread phenomenon, when someone is found to be inconsistent with their behavior, they tend to feel embarrassed about it. In order not to have their reputation, they may feel the need to justify their actions. Usually, high profile people such as politicians deal with this embarrassment by refuting claims about their hypocritical behavior, reasoning out, deflecting criticisms and in some cases, giving up their position. When someone spots a person acting in a hypocritical way, others may view them as biased, not being mindful, unclever and immoral.

Causes of Hypocrisy

As stated by The Guardian, some of the reasons people become hypocrites are believing that they are superior compared to others, cognitive dissonance or the discrepancy between beliefs and actions that disturb the brain and the principle of least effort which means that people tend to select the choice that does not work.

Three Types of Hypocrisy

According to Psychology Spot, the three types  of hypocrisy are:

Double morality

These are individuals who emphasize the significance of certain values or morals but do not actually practice those values. For instance, a person may keep telling others that it is important to be punctual but they often arrive late for meetings.  

Double moral standard

This pertains to people who are loose with morals when it comes to themselves, but tend to be strict about morals when it comes to others.

As an example, a person might be mad at those who keep throwing garbage on the sidewalk. However, when others discover that they also throw trash on the sidewalk, they will try to explain away their behavior.

Moral weakness

This refers to those who feel an internal clash of attitudes within themselves due to cognitive dissonance. This may also be caused by not having any self-discipline. The person may be an avid believer of the principle or value, but does not have enough willpower to act on it. They may not be brave enough to admit their inconsistent behavior or despite not being able to practice their values, they may keep lecturing others about those values.

Countering the Hypocrisy in a Less Biased Manner

Psychology Today recommends these tips to handling hypocrisy, as well as the embarrassment that comes with it, in a less biased manner:

Retract what they have done or said

When they blame others for committing an offense which they actually did not do, they must take back what they said about them. If they made a mistake, they should try to correct it.

For instance, if they accuse a person of stealing their wallet and they were actually not the ones who stole it, they should withdraw their blame. Another illustration of this is that they might have accidentally knocked a can of sardines off the shelf of a supermarket, and they stoop down to pick it up and return it.

Recognize their wrongdoing and promise to do better

They have to recognize the disappointing action which they have done and promise to do better in the future.

For example, if their goal was to be able to exercise every week and they were unable to work out during that week, they must vow to themselves that they will actually spend some time on exercising next week.


Promising to do better in the future to counteract the disappointing action they have done / Photo by Pathdoc via Shutterstock


Confess mistakes and apologize

They should be able to admit their mistake and say sorry for the misdeed they have committed.

If they broke someone’s vase, for example, they may take responsibility and apologize to the owner of the vase.

Move on

The feeling of being a hypocrite may be prolonged in a person, regardless of whether they publicly apologized or if they had withdrawn what they said or what they did. They may think that those negative emotions will remain forever, but they actually do not.

When this happens, they should find ways to distract themselves from these feelings without having to rely on drugs or alcohol. Looking for ways to self-affirm may also help reduce their feelings of hypocrisy. It is advised that they remind themselves of their strengths or spend time with friends.

Call Out People on Their Hypocrisy

In the article, It’s Only Wrong When You Do It! The Psychology of Hypocrisy, it was written that some studies indicate that pointing out another person’s hypocritical behavior can have a positive influence on them. For certain people, when others call them out on their hypocrisy, they tend to become more devoted to acting on their morals. In other words, they must be brave enough to bring up their hypocritical beliefs and actions as it may be beneficial to them. They must also acknowledge even the kind of hypocrisy that they agree with, to avoid being a hypocrite.




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