Moral hypocrisy, power and social preferences

Aldo Rustichini, Marie Claire Villeval

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We study how individuals adjust their judgment of fairness and unfairness when they are in the position of spectators before and after making real decisions, and how this adjustment depends on the actions they take in the game. We find that norms that appear universal instead take into account the players' bargaining power. Also, individuals adjust their judgments after playing the game for real money, when they behaved more selfishly and only in games where choices have no strategic consequence. We interpret this possibly self-deceptive adjustment of judgments to actions as moral hypocrisy. This behavior appears produced by the attempt to strike a compromise between self-image and payoffs, so as to release oneself of one's responsibility for selfish behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-24
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Issue numberPA
StatePublished - Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Experiment
  • Fairness
  • Moral hypocrisy
  • Power
  • Self-deception
  • Social preferences


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