A persistent mystery discussed in this presidential campaign has been double standards. In other words, while Donald Trump seems to have a “get out of jail free” card, Hillary Clinton can’t seem to “pass go.”
A case in point is the news last week that the FBI is looking at more emails potentially tied to Clinton. Without knowing anything about their contents — whether they show wrongdoing or not — the pundit reaction was swift and negative, and polls suggested it may have shifted some voters into the Trump column. At the same time, a trail of women accusing Trump of sexual assault and a rape trial failed to generate as much outrage (considering the significance of the alleged wrongdoing).
The possibility of different standards for how voters assess the perceived failings of Trump and Clinton is discussed frequently. New research suggests one reason may be that we actually do hold people we perceive as leaders up to a higher standard – and more importantly, we more easily forgive those we don’t see that way.