Self-righteousness (also called sententiousness, holier-than-thou) is a feeling of (usually) smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one's beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.
The term "self-righteous" is often considered derogatory (see, for example, journalist and essayist James Fallows' description of self-righteousness in regards to Nobel Peace Prize winners) particularly because self-righteous individuals are often thought to exhibit hypocrisy, an idea similar to that of the Freudian defense mechanism of reaction formation. The connection between self-righteousness and hypocrisy predates Freud's views, however, as evidenced by the 1899 book Good Mrs. Hypocrite: A Study in Self-Righteousness, by the pseudonymous author "Rita."
- Dictionary.com definition
- Fallows, James About self-rightiousness and Al Gore The Atlantic, Oct 13 2007