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Abstract

How do people come to terms with moral self-presentations and disconfirming behaviors? Subjects were exposed to the self-presentation of either an exemplifier (presenting himself as morally virtuous) or a pragmatist (presenting himself as morally adaptable) and then learned whether the self-presenter had or had not cheated for self-serving reasons in an earlier experiment Subjects clearly distinguished between exploitativeness and hypocrisy in their attributions, and considered a cheating exemplifier more hypocritical and self-deluding, but less exploitative and devious than a cheating pragmatist A second experiment manipulated subjects' involvement with the cheating of an exemplifier and a pragmatist by making half of the subjects its victims As in Experiment 1, uninvolved subjects considered the cheating exemplifier more hypocritical and less exploitative than a cheating pragmatist, however, involved subjects (victims) considered a cheating exemplifier more hypocritical but no less exploitative than a cheating pragmatist The results are discussed in terms of strategic self-presentation and the attribution of moral character