The current research demonstrates that authenticity is directly linked to morality. Across five experiments, we found that experiencing inauthenticity consistently led participants to feel more immoral and impure. This inauthenticity-feeling immoral link produced an increased desire to cleanse oneself and to engage in moral compensation by behaving prosocially. We established the role that impurity played in these effects through mediation and moderation. We found that inauthenticity-induced cleansing and compensatory helping were driven by heightened feelings of impurity rather than from the psychological discomfort of dissonance. Similarly, physically cleansing oneself eliminated the relationship between inauthenticity and prosocial compensation. Finally, we demonstrated additional evidence for discriminant validity: These effects were not driven by general negative experiences (i.e., failing a test) but were unique to experiences of inauthenticity. These results establish that authenticity is a moral state — that being true to thine own self is experienced as a form of virtue.

F. Gino, M. Kouchaki, and Adam Galinsky
Journal Article
Publication Date
Psychological Science

Full Citation

Gino, F., M. Kouchaki, and Adam Galinsky
. “The moral virtue of authenticity: How inauthenticity produces feelings of immorality and impurity.”
Psychological Science
, (January 01, 2015):