Effects of anger, guilt, and envy on moral hypocrisy

Evan Polman*, Rachel L. Ruttan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


In the current article the authors examined the impact of specific emotions on moral hypocrisy, the tendency among people to judge others more severely than they judge themselves. In two studies, they found that (a) anger increased moral hypocrisy, (b) guilt eliminated moral hypocrisy, and (c) envy reversed moral hypocrisy. In particular, these findings were observed in two domains. In Study 1, participants responded to moral dilemmas describing unethical behavior and rated how acceptable it would be if others engaged in the unethical behavior, or alternatively, if they themselves engaged in the unethical behavior. In Study 2, participants were asked how much they would like to donate to research on cancer, or alternatively, how much they think others should donate. The results demonstrate that specific emotions influence moral decision making, even when real money is at stake, and that emotions of the same valence have opposing effects on moral judgment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • anger
  • emotions
  • envy
  • guilt
  • moral hypocrisy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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