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Self-righteousness (also called sententiousness, holier-than-thou[1]) is a feeling of (usually) smug moral superiority[2] 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[3] 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."

See also


  2. definition
  3. Fallows, James About self-rightiousness and Al Gore The Atlantic, Oct 13 2007