Consumers’ inconsistence about hypocrisy: Revisiting the concept of corporate hypocrisy

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


Aiming to give new impetus to the study of corporate hypocrisy, we challenge commonly held beliefs that factual inconsistency between saying and doing leads to perceived corporate hypocrisy in a straightforward manner. Combining philosophers’ observation that perceptions of hypocrisy are aggravated when a person evinces an air of superiority with insights into consumer behavior and organization science, we propose that organizational virtuousness (reflected, for instance, by companies’ moral positioning) aggravates the association between companies’ inconsistency and consumers’ perceptions of corporate hypocrisy. We tested this proposition in two high-powered studies (N = 458 MTurkers, and a representative sample of N = 522 Dutch consumers), and report first evidence for the predicted effect. The studies converge in the finding that hypocrisy is rooted in inconsistency, but only when inconsistency involves a transgression, and when acting inconsistently involved a moral, as opposed to competent, company (Study 1) or brand (Study 2). Various intriguing strands of potential research flow from the presented findings, including the underlying processes of this effect and their modulation by individual differences in perception and reasoning between consumers. Our analysis offers a strong pointer towards the benefits of combining insights from different disciplines to advance scholarly understanding of corporate hypocrisy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19-Aug-2019
EventSubjective Probability, Utility, and Decision Making 2019 -, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 18-Aug-201922-Aug-2019


ConferenceSubjective Probability, Utility, and Decision Making 2019
Abbreviated titleSPUDM


  • corporate hypocrisy
  • moral positioning
  • inconsistency
  • transgression
  • morality
  • competence
  • consumers

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