The double standard

The double standard is a principle or policy that is applied in a different way to similar things, with no legitimate explanation. Thus, a double standard happens when two or more individuals or groups, are handled differently, when they should be handled the same way.

We can encounter double standards in many ares of our lives: in the actions of individuals and groups that apply different forms of favoritism and discrimination, such as sexism or racism.

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Double Standards: What They Are and How to Respond to Them

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  • A person who judges and criticizes another person for doing something, even though this person does that very same thing repeatedly and doesn’t see an issue with it when they’re the ones doing it.
  • Treating similar employees differently when they do the same thing, by punishing one and rewarding the other, even though there is no proper, valid reason.

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  • Using double standards intentionally involves an informed, conscious decision to do so and happens mostly when a person thinks that the double standards could help them achieve some goal (helping someone that they favor, hurting someone that they dislike etc.)
  • Using double standards unintentionally means a person fails to acknowledge the double standard, and is generally driven by some motivation, often emotional in nature.

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To find out if you're dealing with a double standard or not, consider these 2 questions:

  • Are two (or even more) things (persons, situations etc.) being treated differently?
  • If there is a different treatment, is there a proper, valid justification for it?

A double standard occurs when there is unequal treatment that is not properly justified.

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  • Make sure that you're really dealing with a double standard and start asking the person in question to explain their reasoning.
  • Emphasize the logical and moral concerns related to the double standard you're considering and help the person applying the standard internalize those concerns.
  • If none of the above ideas work, choose an alternative one based on the circumstance (for example, you can try escalating the issue to someone who can resolve it or put a distance between you and the the person who’s applying the double standard).

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Make sure that whenever you treat similar things differently, you have valid justification for doing so.

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