If there is one group of people you expect to set an example and follow the rules, it would be the people issuing them. In New Zealand, the health minister Dr. David Clark was demoted after he broke national lockdown rules in order to take his family to the beach.
When leaders act hypocritically, they undermine their own positions.
The simplest reason leaders are inconsistent is that they think they can get away with it. Although that may be true in some cases, most people like to see themselves as virtuous.
Another reason for demanding one thing and doing another is to please different audiences. It may feel like leaders are doing the right thing in two different contexts.
In countries that emphasize the needs of the group over the individual, like Asian and Latin American countries, inconsistent behavior is not immediately associated with hypocrisy.
In collectivistic cultures, people will prioritize the preservation of relationships, even when people have double standards.
A reason leaders behave inconsistently is a phenomenon called 'moral licensing.' When people do or say something virtuous, they seem to feel licensed to act in ways that might otherwise call their virtue into question.
Leaders working extremely hard for the common good, might psychologically collect moral credits. This makes them likely to judge their own behavior more kindly than they would do otherwise, even if it may be unethical. They may also convince themselves that others will see their actions in the same light.
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