The Social Psychology – Do-Gooder Derogation



One of the most important factors to going and staying vegan is a supportive network (Cherry 2006). Unfortunately, complicating this is a tendency for vegans to be perceived as “thinking they’re better than everyone else.” This chastising of morally-motivated individuals is something social psychologists have termed “do-gooder derogation.”

However, research shows that individuals who feel threatened will be more open if they are given the opportunity to combat the perceived moral threat (Minson and Monin 2011). Discussing veganism with friends and family members, even if that discussion becomes uncomfortable, could actually reduce their need to bolster non-vegan attitudes.

For the Vegan Toolkit

  • Give others a chance to express their discomfort with your moral choices
  • An open dialogue may reduce negative attitudes


Cherry, E. 2006. “Veganism as a Cultural Movement: A Relational Approach.” Social Movement Studies 5(2): 155-170. Gallagher, W. 2011. New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change. Penguin Press.

Minson, J. and B. Monin. 2011. “Do-Gooder Derogation: Disparaging Morally-Motivated Minorities To Defuse Anticipated Reproach.” Social Psychological and Personality Science 3(2): 200-207.


Cover for "A Rational Approach to Animal Rights." Shows a smiling piglet being held up by human hands.

Readers can learn more about the social psychology of veganism in my 2016 publication, A Rational Approach to Animal Rights.

This post was originally published by VegFund on May 7, 2013.