Why do people hate hypocrites?

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Health Assured team

15 February 2017

No one likes a hypocrite – but when you stop to think about it, it’s strange how much we despise them. Sure, it’s bad not to practise what you preach. But at least you’re still preaching: if I’m constantly talking about the importance of humane farming, I’m promoting a worthy message, even if you’ll also find me scarfing dubious burgers from some van in an alley every Saturday. Surely that’s better than nothing? Well, no. Both research and experience tell us it’s worse than nothing: we dislike hypocrites more than people who are straightforwardly awful. There’s a depressing lesson here for politicians, among others, reflected in recent events: if you can’t be perfectly moral – and who can? – you might do better simply acting like a monster. Why this peculiar hostility to hypocrisy? You could argue that hypocrites lack self-discipline, which we think of as a moral failing – but that hardly seems a good enough explanation. Last month, the Yale psychologist Jillian Jordan and her colleagues made a persuasive case for a better one: we hate hypocrites because they’re guilty of “false signalling”. Signals, in evolutionary theory, are how we communicate, to get what we want from others; they include everything from peacocks’ mating dances to a lizard’s camouflage. The person who loudly condemns other people for condoning cruel farming implies that he or she refrains from such behaviour, without ever saying so. It’s a signal. And it works: moral condemnation, the Yale psychologists show, boosts your reputation even more effectively than bragging about how moral you are. It’s a shortcut to high status. No wonder we’ve evolved, or been socialised, to respond so angrily when we discover it was unearned. Excerpt from The Guardian Online, to read the full article visit their website here. Making changes in life can be difficult, and there are ways that we all know we could do better. Whether it be simple changes like drinking more water or doing more exercise through to more impactful life alterations such as quitting smoking and cutting down on our alcohol consumption. That’s why Health Assured offers support when planning these changes and the effects they have on your wellbeing, both short term and long term. We recognise the value of support tools in dealing with lifestyle changes, which is why we provide self-help modules, informative factsheets and invaluable advice video presentations by one of our leading counselling supervisors. In addition, we have developed a range of four week programmes to help you with your planned lifestyle changes, these cover a number of areas from losing weight to sleeping better and improving or changing habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption as well as challenges to set yourself along the way. To find out more simply visit the Health and Wellbeing Portal or call the number below for more information.

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