Perception on Hypocrisy

Table of Content


Background Information

Hypocrisy in definition of The Oxford English Dictionary is “the assuming of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, with dissimulation of real character or inclinations, esp. in respect of religious life or beliefs; hence in general sense, dissimulation, pretense, sham. ” The word hypocrisy itself comes from the Greek word meaning ‘playing a theatrical role’ and several other definitions have regarded hypocrisy as “practicing what you preach” (e. g. , Stone & Fernandez, 2008), “saying one thing and doing another” (e. . , Barden, Rucker, & Petty, 2005), or publicly upholding moral norms, especially for others to follow, but personally violating them in private (e. g. , Lammers, Stapel, & Galinsky, 2010). One thing in common of this multitude of definitions is that hypocrisy, by definition, refers to virtue or goodness, and is used in other domains only by extension. This means that hypocrisy is inherently used to refers to the expression of good thing and in fact, even when used to refer to deception, hypocrisy is still problematic because it involves dishonesty.

If the part of ‘not being true to oneself’ is omitted, hypocrisy generally resulted in a good thing, for example; a person might not follow it through himself but if his advices changes other people for the better, then where’s the wrong in that? In the words of M. Simmon (2007), “I don’t see why it would be hypocritical for a drug user to advise people not to use drugs. Frankly, I think he would have more, not less, credibility than someone who had never used drugs. Moreover, if your polite and courteous demeanor generally pleases everyone around you, even when you don’t mean it, it can possibly make their day better. When faced with different situations, human wears a different personality that masks the wearer’s true self in order to cope with those critical situations. However, hypocrisy has been and always will be associated with grim and negative meanings. We are nurtured from the early life of ours to put honesty on the high pedestal and condemn deceitful and treacherous gesture.

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But how exactly is hypocrisy affecting our daily life, for the better or worse? To what extend can we call our actions as an honest gesture and not due to peer pressure or other commitments? Why does hypocrisy actually matter? 1. 2. Statement of Problem Hypocrisy is a serious but heavily underrated issue that is regularly avoided like a plague by public and government alike. Because it’s such a sensitive issue that it needs to be seriously addressed and being publicly aware of.

The multitude of problem originates from hypocrisy or the lack of coherent understanding of it is staggering. In social life, hypocrisy births problem such as double standard – a situation is desirable for one group but deplorable for another. For example, in an article written by Alexander Baron in 2012, he stated that Western society is actively committing double standard in regard to Muslim, such defending the blasphemous film of Innocence of Muslims on the ground of freedom of speech while convicting a young Muslim of his Facebook aggressive posting on war.

Meanwhile, when hypocrisy is misunderstood or is heavily ridiculed upon, issues such as ad hominem – an action to negate the truth a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or unrelated belief of the person supporting it – completely negated any attempt to bettering the society as a whole as good advices are being refuted simply because the advice-giver has no credibility or is known for other misdeeds. Given how detrimental hypocrisy or the misconception of it may affect the entire system of civilization, it is plausible for this research to be done. 1.

Purpose of Study

Given the nature of hypocrisy and misleading perception of the public on the issue as a whole, it is high time for a thorough research to be conducted to properly investigate and instill awareness of the validity of the issue. Apart from that, there is also a big chance that hypocrisy may lead to the fall of culture and society as the distortion of individual identities it creates will inevitably resulted in the lack of trusts among the public. In response to this possible concern, a special research committee is set up recently in order to investigate the issue further.

The purpose of this study described in this research report was to assess the current public knowledge on their values concerning hypocrisy and the impact of hypocrisy on society as well as to explore the broader culture and humanity issues associated.

Objective of the Study

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. To investigate the students’ perspective on the issue of hypocrisy in relation to situation or general acceptance of the matter.
  2.  To identify the reason hypocrisy is needed or committed in certain situations.
  3. To study the effects of hypocrisy in study and social environment.
  4.  To explore the ways to overcome issues created by hypocrisy.

Research Questions

  • What is the students’ perspective on the issue of hypocrisy in relation to situation or general acceptance of the matter?
  • Why is hypocrisy needed or committed in certain situations and how do students feel about it?
  •  What would be the outcome of committing hypocrisy in relation to study and social environment?
  • What are the ways to overcome those issues created by hypocrisy?

Significance of Study

Although evidently hypocrisy is a very subjective topic, in regards to both the perception of people regarding it and the way it is committed, the findings of this study might create an opportunity to create awareness of the issues of hypocrisy, and thus help tackling the problem that precedes and proceeds hypocrisy as well as helping counselors or psychologists to device countermeasures. With the information at hand, the result can be publicized and more extensive study may be planned for the future.

Scope of Study

The first study will be executed on the residents of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Students of Faculty of Computer Science and Information System in particular will be selected as the respondents of this study. The respondents, who are between the ages of 18 to 25, will be randomly selected by the research team themselves.

Literature Review

Definition and Usage of Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is widely accepted as the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

Several other definition have also condemned hypocrisy as a vice, yet when it is engaged in studying morals, it finds in this sincerity an invaluable scientific aid. According to Benjamin Ginzburg (1922), while hypocrisy’s definition have always been the same in any era, the value or severity of the act of hypocrisy itself always tends to change in accordance to the social evolution of community. The changes within society also morph the moral value that is upheld, but the injunction of obedience remains the same – that is the only permanent feature of morality.

Due to being tied closely with a society’s general acceptance of conduct, hypocrisy tends to differ among citizens of different culture. Norms are created to provide guidelines for how its members think, feel or act are not the same between cultures with varying level of context differentiation (CD). Individuals who differentiate their behaviors greatly according to context or situation may be considered hypocrites or chameleons in some culture while regarded as matured in another (David Matsumoto, Seung Hee Yoo, Johnny Fontaine; 2009).

Thus, such difference in culture may result in discrepancies of the meanings of hypocrisy itself. Hypocrisy benefits oneself in more ways than one. One can reap the material rewards of acting selfishly whilst garnering the social and self-rewards of being seen and seeing oneself as upstanding and moral. (C. Daniel Batson, Elizabeth R. Thompson, Greg Seuferling, Heather Whitney, Jon A. Strongman; 1999). Using hypocrisy, one is able to lay out a safe path to protect oneself from having to shoulder responsibility; as a coward’s way out.

The Reason behind Hypocrisy

According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1999), in the article ‘Moral Hypocrisy: Appearing Moral to Oneself Without Being So’, there are three factors that give births to the act of hypocrisy. First, those who approach the problem from a social learning perspective are likely to blame a learning deficit. If a person’s behavior is not adequately controlled by his or her standards, then the standards must not have been learned well enough or in the right way (Bandura, 1977; Burton & Kunce, 1995; Hoffman, 1977; Wright, 1971).

Second, those who approach the problem from a social influence perspective are likely to blame situational pressures: orders from a higher authority (Milgram, 1974), conformity pressure (Asch, 1956), foot-in-the-door processes (Freedman & Fraser, 1966), pluralistic ignorance (Latane & Darley, 1968), diffusion of responsibility (Darley & Latane, 1968), and the like. Combine these situational pressures with the generality and abstractness of most moral principles (be fair; do no harm; do unto others as you would have do to you) and the well-known human apacities for selective perception and rationalization, and the result is likely to be moral exclusion (Staub, 1990). Decisions of opposing moralities engulf the everyday lives of human beings. Those who consider themselves to be moral may not always act morally (Jennifer Finney; 2006). The third explanation on how hypocrisy can be committed is moral hypocrisy. According to Batson, Kobrynowicz, Dinnerstein, Kampf, & Wilson (1997), moral hypocrisy is a two-step process.

The first step is seeing choice as an opportunity to maintain one’s moral principles. The second step is to maximize personal gain and minimize costs while still being able to appear moral. These two strategies create cognitive dissonance for the person who is moral but acts immorally in a particular situation. Cognitive dissonance occurs when inconsistent thoughts create psychological tension (McKimmie, Terry, Hogg, Manstead, Spears, & Doosje, 2003). In most cases, people are motivated to relieve this tension.

Previous Studies on Hypocrisy

Several studies related to social psychology and ethics have been conducted to gauge the relation of hypocrisy with moral value of the society or individual. According to Valerie Fointiat (2008) in her research using forced compliance paradigm, the saliency of the discrepancy between what is preaching and what was done (in a recent past) arouses a feeling of hypocrisy. Changing the subsequent behavior into line with the normative speech is the easiest way to reduce the uncomfortable state of hypocrisy.

People are inclined to view themselves as competent, moral, rationale and so on. Dissonance is aroused when persons behave in a way that they view as incompetent, immoral or non-rationale, which resulted in induction of hypocrisy that involved in the combination of two factors – commitment of an issue and mindfulness of their own behavior regarding the issue. People generally prefer to restore positive self-views by choosing to accept a positive request which is related (e. g. give money to a water preservation association) rather than unrelated (e. g. , give money to a cancer research association) to the topic targeted by the hypocrisy-induction procedure (e. g. , water preservation) (Arnaud Liegeois, Vincent Yzerbyt, Olivier Corneille; 2005) David Matsumoto, Seung Hee Yoo, and Johnny Fontaine’s studies on the effect of norms in regard to perception on hypocrisy have also inferred that people personality or value is determined by the culture they are raised in.

Their findings also explain why people who come from low CD cultures, and/or who do not differentiate their behaviors much across contexts, may be seen as immature in high CD cultures, where the learning of the subtle and intricate meanings of context and the associated behavioral regulations that are required is a product of enculturation and a sign of maturity.

Research Methodology

Introduction This section discusses the methodology of the research. The main purpose of the research is to investigate the students’ perspective on the issue of hypocrisy in relation to situation or general acceptance of the matter.

To assess and evaluate this matter, UTM student from FSKSM was chosen. Data for the research were collected through questionnaire, interview and observation.

Research Instruments

This research will utilize both the quantitative and qualitative research methodology. The instruments used to collect data will be questionnaire, interview and observation. A set of questionnaire containing 35 questions divided into 4 sections will be developed based on related questionnaire used previously by another study.

Different question-types, such as ranking, yes-no, listing, category, open-ended and scales were used in the questionnaire. The different sections of the questionnaire were: i) students’ perspective on the issue of hypocrisy in relation to situation or general acceptance of the matter, ii) students acknowledgment for the need of hypocrisy in certain situations, iii) the outcome of committing hypocrisy in relation to study and social environment and iv) ways to overcome those issues created by hypocrisy. The questionnaire was piloted to a group of 10 students to assess its validity before it was distributed.

The qualitative data for the research come from interview and observation. The interview was utilized to confirm the findings from the questionnaire as well as to triangulate the data collection methods. The interview further explored the student’s understanding and perception towards the issue of hypocrisy. Observation is another method of data collection for the research. In this study, observation is used for the purpose of confirming student act towards hypocrisy, to see whether they act like one or not. An observation sheet will be developing.

Respondent of the Study

The respondent of the study will be UTM students of FSKSM from different courses. A total of 35 questionnaires will be distributed to 35 chosen students. 5 students will also be selected to provide in-depths information about the topic through interview sessions. 3. 4 Research Procedure Before the actual data collection period, a pilot study will be conducted to assess the validity of the research instrument. A total of 10 random students will involve in this pilot study chosen from random department across FSKSM.

During the actual study, the questionnaire will be distributed at various locations on faculty, such as the entrance to the computer lab, mini mart and leisure area. Respondent will be asked kindly to answer the questionnaire as true as possible. Five students will be selected from those who completed and returned the questionnaire to attend the interview sessions. Appointments will be set for the interview at a later date. Agreement from the respondents will be sought to enable us to observe their behavior during either test.

Data Analysis

To analyze the data, several variables will be taken into consideration. Data will be entered into the computer using SPSS software. Results will be presented through frequency counts and other descriptive statistics. Interview data would provide a way to validate the data from the questionnaire. The analysis of the interview data will go through the coding technique using identification of patterns and themes that emerged from the analysis. The field-notes from the observation will be transcribed and data from the observation sheet will be analyzed and tabulated in tables.

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Perception on Hypocrisy. (2016, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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