I need a theory to explain the following scenario. Would you refer me to any theory or a body of literature, please?

Have you ever watched House, M.D, an American medical drama television series? If you watched it, you better know the protagonist, Dr.House, who is ultra-smart, solved unsolvable cases, and save many lives. You also know that he is a total jerk: he violates social norms, acts as deviance, lies to everyone, and sometimes harasses his employees.

The portrait of House, indeed, is not far from reality. We encountered many people like him in the modern world, especially at work.

So, my question: why do people give social permission for people like House to act as deviance and violate social norms, but for others, they are very strict in their rules and judgment? And is there any theoretical framework that that accounts for such peculiar behaviors?

If you need one more example, here is a slightly different one. If you are famous, you can say whatever you want and act as you wish, at least anecdotally suggested. However, if you are a novice in an area, your thoughts and opinions, which even they are precisely the same as the famous individual, might be censured? Why? And which theories can explain it?

  • $\begingroup$ I think the behaviours you are referring to are known a the Dark Triad. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_triad $\endgroup$ – Tony Mobbs Aug 17 at 9:19
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is entirely opinion-based, mainly because it is based on a TV series, but also because from personal experience I can say that I know very smart, top-scientists who I don't like for who they are, despite the fact I like their work (I like them for what they are if you wish). $\endgroup$ – AliceD Aug 20 at 13:46

There is something about how we react to TV shows that is different from reality: we do not enjoy them because they are morally perfect (Game of Thrones, anyone ?) but because they immerse us in a situation we find enjoyable or stimulating for any kind of reason. Some of the reasons we like House could be we like being him, facing his challenges, being forgiven everything; we do not necessarily like him as we like being confronted to him.

I'm not sure to what extent the bias you describe translate to reality, but it could, and falling short on sources I'll just hint a few tangeant principles.

When you become succesful and carry that image, it's possible that people would stop considering you mostly as one of their peers, but rather as someone they would like to be, affecting their moral judgement in a similar fashion that Stockolm syndrom affect the moral judgement of hostages. Although the reasons why to project in the other person differ, the mechanism could be similar.

Another possible explanation could be in the process of rationalizing our moral judgement. We could be simply more inclined to forgive people on the basis they "compensate" their bad deeds with good ones. To a certain extent most people would argue there are situations where the end justifies the means, the same concept of offseting bad deeds with good ones could apply.

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