Engaging in virtue signaling

Individuals can engage in virtue signaling, as can groups, companies, or governments.

Someone might even engage in virtue signaling in private, by saying things that are meant to convince themselves of their own good character.

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  • Make sure that a person is really virtue signaling.
  • Clearly outline the issues tied with this kind of behavior.
  • Avoid using the concept of virtue signaling as a trivial way to dismiss others without consideration.
  • Be aware of the fact that just because someone is doing something that demonstrates their good moral values doesn’t mean that they’re virtue signaling.
Virtue signaling

Virtue signaling means speaking or behaving in a way that’s meant to prove a person's good moral values.

If a person affirms on social media that they fully support a specific cause, just because they want to show others how caring they are, that person is virtue signaling.

  • The main goal of their statements or actions is to signal their good moral values, especially to others.
  • They’re being disingenuous in their actions, and not acting in accordance with their actual values.
  • Their actions will have little to no meaningful impact on the state of things.
  • They’re using their statements or behavior as justification to feel morally superior to others.

Usually, ‘virtue signaling’ has a negative meaning (even if there are a few situations where it is likely to lead to meaningful positive outcomes).

This behavior is generally defined as being mainly driven by the desire to signal your good moral values, regardless of whether it leads to a meaningful outcome or not.

It means supporting a cause in a way that requires little action or commitment, and which therefore has little impact.

Sharing a post about a social issue is a form of slacktivism, if that’s the only thing that the person does in support of that cause.

It means speaking or acting in a way that’s meant to demonstrate one’s allegedly negative moral values.

If a person widely states how much they don’t care about a specific societal issue, that person can generally be said to be vice signaling.

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