Age‐related differences when measuring political hypocrisy

Published date01 November 2018
Date01 November 2018
Agerelated differences when measuring political hypocrisy
M. Irene Prete
|Gianluigi Guido
|Marco Pichierri
|Phil Harris
Department of Management and Economics,
University of Salento, Palazzo Ecotekne, Via
per Monteroni, Lecce, Italy
Department of Management, Alma Mater
Studiorum, University of Bologna, Via Capo di
Lucca, Bologna 34 40126, Italy
Business Research Institute (BRI),
Westminster Chair of Marketing, University of
Chester, Riverside Innovation Centre, Castle
Drive, Chester CH1 1SL, UK
M. Irene Prete, Department of Management
and Economics, University of Salento, Palazzo
Ecotekne, Via per Monteroni, Lecce 73100,
This article aims to develop a scale for measuring political hypocrisy (conceptualized as
the inconsistency between values publicly expressed by politicians and the behavior
they actually demonstrate) and to explore the role of age in voters' perceptions of
politicians' hypocrisy, analyzing if citizens belonging to different age groups may iden-
tify politicians' hypocrisy with a different detail. Results show that the 19item scale of
political hypocrisycomposed of three dimensions, called ambiguity,”“slyness,and
deceit”—has good psychometric properties, and that agerelated differences when
measuring political hypocrisy do exist (young voters show a greater awareness of
the hypocritical behavior held by politicians). Furthermore, results suggest that the
perception of political hypocrisy may vary according both to voters' political
orientation and voting intention.
In recent years, most modern democracies have witnessed a massive
decrease in voters' turnout (Cox, 2015; Leighley & Nagler, 2014), sig-
nals of political disengagement (Flinders, 2015), and a pervasive feeling
of generalized disillusion and alienation toward politics (Putnam, 2000).
For example, Hooghe and Kern (2016) analyzed trends in electoral
turnout for 20 stable democracies over a 62year periodbetween
1950 and 2012covering 349 elections and showed that voters' turn-
out remained stable until 1980 and, after that time, declined.
According to literature, political disengagement is associated not
only with personal contextual factors related to voters' individualchar-
acteristics and attitudes toward politics but also with environmental
contextual factors linked to political institutions, the media, and espe-
cially, parties and politicians' actions. Frequently, people tend to
assume a politically disengaged behavior in consequence of perceived
dishonesty or ineffectiveness of their elected officials (Prete, Guido,
Harris, & Piper, 2015). Political scandals, highlighted in the daily press
(Brown, 2006), can explain voters' negative evaluation of candidates
(Bhatti, Hansen, & Olsen, 2013) and also a general feeling of distrust
toward politics (Bowler & Karp, 2004). Indeed, politicians often pri-
vately break behavioral rules that they have publicly sustained
(Lammers, Galinsky, & Stapel,2010), although avoiding to make some
of their deplorable behaviors known in order to achieve popular con-
sensus. When politicians' behavior shows inconsistency between what
they have previously promised and the actions they have actually per-
formed, voters could perceive them as hypocrites.Political hypocrisy
can be defined, therefore, as the disparity between a political actor's
public avowals and actions(Dovi, 2001, p. 11). Voters' perception of
political hypocrisy reflects how they judge politicians, and it can be a
factor capable of undermining their political engagement.
The present study has three objectives: (a) developing a scale for
measuring political hypocrisy, providing a concrete tool to evaluate
individuals' perception of politicians' behavior and its effects in terms
of political engagement; (b) describing the perception of politicians'
hypocrisy in different segments of citizens and, specifically, the role
of age in citizens' perceptions of their ruling class; and (c) examining
how a different perception of political hypocrisy can be related to
voters' political orientation and to their voting intention.
In the following sections, a conceptualization of political hypocrisy
and possible agerelated differences in the way individuals perceive it
are discussed. Then a measure for political hypocrisy is developed,
and differences in the perception of political hypocrisy among young,
middleaged, and elderly voters, and between rightwing and leftwing
voters are presented. Finally, theoretical and operational implications
are discussed.
Moral hypocrisy is, in general, the desire to appear moral, although, if
possible, avoiding the cost of actually being so (Batson & Thompson,
2001). This failing to practice what one preaches(Furia, 2009,
p. 113) has become a notion commonly used by political observers,
Received: 20 February 2018 Accepted: 23 February 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1707
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1707.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, 1of8

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT