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Double standard

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A double standard is the application of different sets of principles for situations that are, in principle, the same.[1] A double-standard arises when two or more people, circumstances, or events are treated differently even though they should be treated the same way.[2] Margaret Eichler, author of The Double Standard: A Feminist Critique of Feminist Social Science, explains that a double standard “implies that two things which are the same are measured by different standards”.[3]

In order to distinguish a double-standard from different standards that are validly applied to two or more circumstances, the similarity of those circumstances as well as the philosophy or belief system defining the treatment of those circumstances must be examined. It may be determined that a different standard can be applied to situations that appear similar based on a qualifying truth that, upon closer examination, renders those situations distinct (i.e. a physical reality, a moral obligation etc.). However, if apparently similar situations have been treated differently and there is no qualifying truth or principle distinguishing the way in which those situations should be treated, then it may be determined that a double standard has been applied.

If correctly identified, a double standard is viewed negatively as it usually indicates the presence of hypocritical, biased, and/or unfair attitudes leading to unjust behaviors.


Examples and Common IssuesEdit


The role that gender plays in determining people's moral, social, political, and legal contexts has been long-debated and often controversial. Some believe that differences in the way men and women are perceived and treated is a function of social and environmental norms, thus indicating a double standard. One frequently discussed issue concerns the claim that a double standard exists in society's judgment of women's and men's sexual conduct. Research has found that casual sexual activity is regarded as more acceptable for men than for women.[4] Other research contends that women are held to stricter standards of competency that men, as shown in studies involving the completion of perceptual tasks.[5] According to some, double standards between men and women can potentially exist with regards to dating, cohabitation, marriage/remarriage, sexual abuse/assault/harassment, domestic violence, and singleness.

The LawEdit

A double standard may arise if two or more groups who have equal rights under the law are given different degrees or legal protection or representation. Such double standards are seen as unjustified because they violate a basic maxim of modern legal jurisprudence to which many countries claim to adhere - that all parties should stand equal before the law. A double standard can therefore be described as a biased or morally unfair application of that maxim. Where judges and leaders are expected to be impartial (such as in a court of law), they are expected to apply the same standards to all people regardless of their own subjective biases or favoritism based on social class, rank, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, or other distinctions.


A double standard arises in politics when the treatment of the same political matters between two or more parties (such as the response to a public crisis or the allocation of obligatory funding) is handled differently. This could occur because of the nature of political relationships between those tasked with these matters, the degree of reward or power that stands to be gained/lost, or the personal biases/prejudices of those in politics. Double standard policies can include situations when the assessment of the same phenomenon, process or event in the international relations depends on character of the relations of the estimating parties with assessment objects. At identical filling of action of one country get support and a justification, and other – is condemned and punished.[citation needed]

The following phrase became an example of policy of double standards: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter",[6] entered into use by the British writer Gerald Seymour in his work Harry's Game in 1975.

Causes and ExplanationsEdit

Psychological TheoriesEdit

A double standard can develop in a person's mind for a multitude of reasons including; finding an excuse for oneself, emotions clouding judgement, twisting facts to support beliefs such as confirmation biases, cognitive biases, attraction biases, prejudices, or the need to be right. Human beings have a tendency to evaluate the actions of the people they interact with based on who did them.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Double standard"
  2. ^ "double standard Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  3. ^ Eichler, Margaret (1980). The Double Standard: A Feminist Critique of Feminist Social Science (Print)|format= requires |url= (help). Croom Helm. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-85664-536-5.
  4. ^ Vrangalova Ph.D., Zhana (March 3, 2014). "Is Our Sexual Double Standard Going Away?" (Web article). Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  5. ^ Foschi, Martha (Sept., 1996). "Double Standards in the Evaluation of Men and Women". Social Psychology Quarterly. American Sociological Association. 59, No. 3 (Special Issue: Gender and Social Interaction): 237–254. doi:10.2307/2787021. Retrieved 20 February 2019. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Satish Chandra Pandey. International Terrorism and the Contemporary World. Sarup & Sons, 2006. С. 17.

Further readingEdit