Why are there double standards

What is a double standard? Meaning, definition, examples

Double standards mean that behavior and statements are assessed with two different standards, and that the behavior and statements of a person contradict one another.

Double standards arise when someone uses different principles and moral standards at the same time, with the result that the principle of equal treatment is violated.

Double standards have the following varieties:

  1. A certain behavior is required of others that someone does not display himself.
  2. The same behavior or the same statements by people are rated differently depending on their group membership. A content / factual assessment of the statements is of secondary importance here.
  3. Someone does not follow their own moral expressions with deeds or does not live their own moral expressions. This creates a contradiction between the words and the behavior.

To 1) preach water and drink wine (double standards)

To 1) The double standard consists in the fact that someone demands something from others, which he does not do himself. This means that those who demand something from others do not meet their own demands.

Examples of double standards

Someone preaches water and drinks wine. (Quote by Heinrich Heine from the poem "Germany. A Winter Tale" from 1844) The double standard consists in the fact that someone demands abstinence and discipline from others, but does not live in a celibate or disciplined manner, but lavishly.

Someone says that fewer planes should be flown, but they travel a lot by plane themselves. (See: Flight shame (Flygskam))

In earlier times, the nobility required the common people to be celibate and monogamous, while the nobility themselves lived unfaithfulness, were lewd and there was maitressen.

Someone would like to abolish the privacy of the users of their social network, but reveal as little as possible about themselves.

This form of double standard fails because someone does not follow their own words and does not set a positive example. These people are also called "hypocrites" and it is referred to here as "hypocrisy". The opposite is that someone obeys his own words and shows integrity, and thus takes on a role model function.

This form of double standard also has a character of self-righteousness. Because behavior that evaluates negatively in others, someone evaluates positively or not at all. This puts this person above other people and violates the principle of equality. This person makes an exception to the rule for himself or for his group.

Example: Someone justifies a crime by saying that it serves their (own) good cause. While the same offense, when committed by others, is rejected and should be punished. (Despite the same offenses, there is a different moral evaluation.)

Depending on whether a person is aware of their double standards or not, the behavior should be rated differently. If a person is not yet aware of their double standards, this should be pointed out to them. If a person is aware of their double standards, it can almost be assumed that they are lying.

Regarding 2) Assessment according to group membership, not according to content (double standards)

Regarding 2) The behavior or statements of a person are assessed differently depending on their group membership. It is also true that, depending on the motivation and goals of a person, a different assessment takes place when the same means are used.

This form of double standards leads to an imbalance and an asynchrony, which leads to one-sidedness. The result is that one side is overrated while the other side is undervalued, and one side is rated very positively while another side is rated very negatively. (This almost black-and-white classification is reinforced by the human urge for confirmation / unity. Because if someone evaluates a thing negatively, this person will oppose a lot of negative things and ignore positive things.)

Examples of double standards

Demonstrations are okay if they serve your own goals. If they do not serve their own goals or if there is a demonstration against something that is against their own values, these demonstrations are not okay. (See also: NPC memes)

One example are the Pegida / anti-refugee policy demonstrations and the Fridays For Future demonstrations. Both demonstrations take place within the legally permitted framework, but are rated very differently in the media. (The different evaluation is also due to the different goals of the demonstrations, which in turn are also evaluated differently in terms of morality.)

Further examples of double standards:

A nation or an alliance of states tolerates human rights violations being committed by another state even though they have spoken out against it.

Another form of double standard is that men are allowed sexual permissiveness while women are denied it. Various standards of morality apply here.

To 3) Don't live your words - words and deeds are in contradiction (double standards)

To 3) The third variant of the double standard concerns the individual. The point here is that someone makes moral statements, but does not live them.

Examples of double standards:

Someone speaks out against factory farming, but buys cheap meat in the supermarket. Or: someone thinks it is bad that animals die for their own enjoyment and still eats meat. (See: Meat Paradox)

Someone demands freedom of expression, but censors unpopular opinions.

Reject political correctness and later demand political correctness.

Someone says that he is a Christian and lives Christian values, but does not donate anything to the poor or does not help people in need.

Someone speaks out for loyalty and cheats on them.

Someone demands good working conditions in the third world and buys the T-shirt produced in the third world for 2 euros.

Someone speaks ill of others and is appalled when others speak ill of themselves or themselves.

Someone pretends to be interested in art but has never been to an art exhibition.

Criticize others, but cannot stand criticism yourself.

This form of double standard arises when someone does not follow his moral statements and utterances.

Double standards can also arise when someone makes contradicting statements at different times. Here this person can then be accused of a certain indecision and inconsistency. It should also be noted that it can be useful to change your mind. Namely when the framework conditions have changed.

About the double standard: meaning and psychology

Double standards are as old as humanity. It is innate to humans that they are contradicting and also do contradicting things. It is also innate to look beyond double standards or to ignore them. People don't like ambivalence.

Double standards because of a lack of self-awareness

Double standards disappear when self-perception increases and becomes better. Self-perception is one of the reasons for double standards: some people are simply not aware that they are behaving in contradicting ways. Double standards also disappear when people stop telling others how they want to live.

It is just normal for people to have a certain double standard. Because only with advancing age do they see some things more clearly and see through more.

Anyone who learns more about their values ​​and also more about values ​​that contradict one another can respond to the accusation of double standards. In the best case scenario, there is a correction of the behavior, not a defense.

Double standards also arise from the fact that people want to feel good and comfortable. You want to feel morally good instead of always being confronted with (unsightly) reality. Feeling morally good happens when someone makes morally valuable statements. (Moral people are also more prestigious in society.)

Double standards: moral licensing

A psychological phenomenon that explains double standards is the "moral licensing" (English: "moral licensing")

Moral licensing means that someone can do something bad because they did something good before. This balances the bad behavior against the good so that someone does not feel guilty.


Someone is shopping for organic vegetables or in an organic store, so it is reasonable to drive home to do the shopping.

If you do a lot of sport, you can also eat chips or fast food and drink a beer with it. Or: Those who do a lot of sport are allowed to smoke.

Consequences of the double standard

If double standards are recognized or exposed, this reduces the credibility of a person. But it also shows one thing, namely that reality has caught up with a person and that reality is often more complex than many people think.

Recognize double standards as protection

Double standards are used in bourgeois society as an occasion for self-criticism and criticism. Double standards are an occasion to question values. This is used in different ways. E.g .: A person protests against what are actually morally correct demands of others because they have discovered that a person lives in a double-moral manner. (The demands still remain morally correct. Only the double-moral person is a bad example to promote the morally correct position, as it lacks credibility. The person who cautions can now maintain the current state and does not have to change or change his behavior leave their comfort zone. (This is also an essential human need. People don't like change.)

The existence of double standards also means that a person is not always at one with his or her values. This relativism is lived out in different rooms, for example: In private, for example, someone is more revealing than in public. It is therefore important for each individual to endure a certain moral ambiguity.

Synonyms for double standards

The English expression "double standard" has meanwhile spread in the German language in the German variant "Doppelstandard".

Other synonyms are:

  • Bigotry
  • Double standard
  • Duplicity
  • hypocrisy
  • Moral dualism / moral dualism
  • Mendacity

Back to the previous page | Category: Society and Politics, Medicine and Psychology