Condemnation as a signal among children : The costs and benefits of hypocrisy
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Morality is something that every person wants to preserve, and self-righteousness is the way in which we do so. However, often in this effort to be self-righteous and moral, we forget to judge our own actions. From previous work done with adults, it has been found that those who partake in an action they condemn are seen as being worse than those who simply perform the action without condemnation. When one makes a statement of condemnation, that is perceived as a signal of their moral character. Those who partake in false signaling are perceived to be worse than those who lie. Hypocrisy is frowned upon, but only if accompanied with false signaling; when one says they sometimes partake in the act being condemned (honest hypocrite) they are not perceived to be as bad as those who falsely signal and are hypocrites. The purpose of this paper is to extend that work and determine whether children ages 4-9 years old can discriminate between hypocrisy in generosity and stealing conditions and which they find to be worse; honest hypocrites, liars, or hypocrites.