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Impression Management

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Abstract

Impression management can be defined as the effort of people affecting and dominating over the others ones’ opinions about something, usually about them. Persons, as a rule, practice this either to obtain something they need from others or to form an independent identity. Impression management is a method of influence – it is a goal-oriented activity designed to control information perceived about a person, event, or idea. The simplest definition of it may be the following: it is made by individuals’ effort to manage the way their images are presented in social interactions.

Keywords: impression management, self-presentation, information.

Impression Management

What would be the proper definition of impression management? It can be defined as the effort of people affecting and dominating over the other ones’ opinions about something, usually about them. Persons, as a rule, practice this either to obtain something they need from others or to form an independent identity. Impression management is a method of influence – it is a goal-oriented activity designed to control information perceived about a person, event, or idea. The simplest definition of the analyzed expression may be the following: it is made by individuals’ effort to manage the way their images are presented in social interactions.

The term “impression management” is often used as a synonym to the term “self-presentation”, in which a person tries to control how their image is perceived. In the 1960s, Edward E. Jones – a social psychologist, moved the study of impression management to the area of psychology. He extended the term so that it would include the following: it is individuals’ attempts to manage the impression of their personal characteristics perceived by other people. The idea of “self” is significant for the above indicated theory since the images people hold define and are defined under the influence of social interactions.

The term “social identity” was formulated in the 1970s, which deals with how people are characterized and perceived in social interactions (Schlenker, 1980, p. 69). Humans use impression management tactics to affect the social identity they reflect to others. The identity that people produce defines their behavior in front of other ones; it influences the treatment and the outcomes they received from other people. Thus, social outcomes are greatly affected by the impact of impressions individuals convey about themselves. A person plays an important role in influencing his social outcomes.

When people try to produce an effect on the way they are perceived by others, they apply aforementioned tactics in one of three ways: tactically, ideally, or authentically. An individual’s authentic image portrays the manner he perceives himself, his ideal image what he wishes to be.  To receive certain results, his tactical image is used. It is often formed of what other people expect, or want that person to be. People apply different images in regard to the situation. For example, an individual might use his tactical image at work, his ideal image when interviewed for a job, and his authentic image when on a date (“What is Impression Management?,” n.d.).

Impression management is considered as a process when people try to influence the images and reactions other people perceive of them, their ideas or events. Often self-presentations made by persons play an important role in others reaching favorable conclusions of them. It is significant when one aspires to convey an impression of oneself, which will be received favorably by an audience. People can use their voices, the way they dress, their manners, the preferences they express, or activities they become involved in for conveying the impressions about themselves to others.

Self-presentation is a conscious attempt to influence other people and some believe that it is a deceptive way to produce an opinion of what one is like. While it may be true in some cases, in many situations it deals simply with intentions to make a public presentation of accurate self-relevant information. As some impression management’s authors see it, the difference between deception and self-presentation lies in giving outright false information and producing an impression about something by not making explicit statements about it (Provis, 2010, p. 203). The latter case leaves people responsible for conclusions they make about the theme or idea presented.

For example, when a person is going to be interviewed for a job his relaxed appearance changes drastically. The man consciously makes a decision to bring his appearance into conformity with the existing dress code norms in order to make the right impression on the potential employer. As well, at a job interview one may express exaggerated enthusiasm for the company’s products. The individual by doing that will show what will be required of him for participation in the life of the company.

There are three dimensions to the ethical assessment of impression management (self-presentation). It is an influence exercised on other by using social pressures to comply with commonly accepted norms. It is also presenting information or misinformation. Lastly, it is the method of producing an effect on other people by showing them only advantageous information about oneself. Self-presentation (impression management) forms may be ethically assessed for the way they influence people: as fair or harmful.

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