Monika L. McDermott, Douglas Schwartz and Sebastián Vallejo Vera (2015). **Talking the Talk But Not Walking the Walk: Public Reactions to Hypocrisy in Political Scandals.** _American Politics Research_

Abstract

Aggregate, survey, and experimental research into political scandal teaches us how the public reacts to revelations of misdeeds on behalf of its elected representatives. One common scenario, however, has been largely overlooked in scandal studies: the effects of hypocrisy in scandal. Examples abound of politicians who campaign on values that they then directly betray with their actions in office. Conventional wisdom, however, holds that such hypocrisy is an unpardonable transgression. We examine whether and how hypocrisy affects public reactions to political scandal and its perpetrators. Using a Quinnipiac University survey experiment, we demonstrate that negative judgments of a hypothetical politician caught in an adulterous relationship not only vary by degree depending on the presence or absence of hypocrisy but that they also vary by type of judgment. Individuals generally react more negatively to politicians in hypocritical scandal situations than nonhypocritical ones. In addition, a hypocritical situation affects public judgments of a politician’s competence in office, above and beyond other judgments, demonstrating an added professional aspect to judgments of scandals when they involve hypocrisy.

Publication
American Politics Research