Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Tobias Krettenauer

Advisor Role

Graduate Student Advisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Alexandra Gottardo

Advisor Role

Advisory Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Roger Buehler

Advisor Role

Advisory Committee Member


Moral hypocrisy has been defined as “the motivation to appear moral while acting in one’s self interest, and therefore avoiding the cost of actually being moral” (Batson, Kobrynowicz, Dinnerstein, Kampf, & Wilson, 1997). This is in contrast with moral integrity, or the motivation to actually be moral. Experimental research with adults has indicated that people are more highly motivated by moral hypocrisy than by moral integrity (Batson, Thompson, & Chen, 2002). However, this research has yet to be conducted with a variety of age groups. The present study investigated whether there are age differences in individuals’ tendency to engage in moral hypocrisy versus moral integrity. How does the desire to appear moral develop in relation to the desire to be consistent with one’s moral beliefs? Two hundred and sixty children, adolescents, and emerging adults from the Kitchener-Waterloo region were asked to make a decision in which it was possible to appear moral by endorsing fairness while choosing to act in accordance with their own self-interest. Results indicate that as age increases, self-interest decreases, and moral integrity and prosocial behaviour increase. Our experiment yields no age-related trend with regards to moral hypocrisy. This research informs moral identity research and suggests that moral hypocrisy may not be as widespread or as solidified a motive for moral action as previously claimed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season