Autodidact: self-taught

Apr
24
2012

Impression Management

by V. L. Craven

Impression Management ( Wikipedia )
Definition: In sociology and social psychology, impression management is a goal-directed conscious or unconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event; they do so by regulating and controlling information in social interaction. It is usually used synonymously with self-presentation, in which a person tries to influence the perception of their image.
Motives and Strategies
Two main motives that govern self-presentation.
1] Instrumental: we want to influence others and gain rewards.
Three Instrumental goals:
1] Ingratiation: when we try to be happy and display our good qualities so that others will like us.
2] Intimidation: aggressively showing anger to get others to hear and obey us.
3] Supplication: try to be vulnerable and sad so people will help us and feel bad for us.
2] Expressive: construct an image of ourselves to claim personal identity, and present ourselves in a manner that is consistent with that image. If we feel like this is restricted, we exhibit reactance/be defiant. We try to assert our freedom against those who would seek to curtail our self-presentation expressiveness. A classic example is ‘preacher’s daughter’, whose suppressed personal identity and emotions cause an eventual backlash at her family and community.
-Concerning the strategies followed to establish a certain impression, the main distinction is between defensive and assertive strategies. Whereas defensive strategies include behaviours like avoidance of threatening situations or means of self-handicapping, assertive strategies refer to more active behaviour like the verbal idealisation of the self, the use of status symbols or similar practices.

Theory
IM theory states that any individual or organization must establish and maintain impressions that are congruent with the perceptions they want to convey to their publics. From both a communications and PR viewpoint, the theory of IM encompasses the vital ways in which one establishes and communicates this congruence between personal or organizational goals and their intended actions which create public perception.
The idea that perception is reality is the basis for this sociological and social psychology theory, which is framed around the presumption that the other’s perceptions of you or your organization become the reality from which they form ideas and the basis for intended behaviours.

Basic Factors
Range of factors that govern impression management can be identified.
It can be stated that impression management becomes necessary whenever there exists a kind of social situation, whether real or imaginary. Logically, the awareness of being a potential subject of monitoring is also crucial. Furthermore, the characteristics of a given social situation are important. Specifically, the surrounding cultural norms determine the appropriateness of particular nonverbal behaviours. The actions have to be appropriate to the targets, and within that culture, so that the kind of audience as well as the relation to the audience influences the way IM is realized. A person’s goals are another factor governing the ways and strategies of IM. This refers to the content of an assertion, which also leads to distinct ways of presentation of aspects of the self. The degree of self-efficacy describes whether a person is convinced that it is possible to convey the intended impression.
A new study finds that, all other things being equal, people are more likely to pay attention to faces that have been associated with negative gossip than those with neutral or positive associations. The study contributes to a body of work showing that far from being objective, our perceptions are shaped by unconscious brain processes that determine what we ‘choose’ to see or ignore—even before we become aware of it. The findings also add to the idea that the brain evolved to be particularly sensitive to ‘bad guys’ or cheaters—fellow humans who undermine social life by deception, theft or other non-cooperative behaviour.

Erving Goffman
Strategic interpersonal behaviour to shape or influence impressions formed by an audience is not a new field; he has however known in his field to have some unjustified theories about the nuclear family, it has a rich history. Plato spoke of the ‘stage of human life’ and Shakespeare crafted the famous sentence “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. In the 20th century Erving Goffman also followed a dramaturgical analogy in his seminal book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, in which he said, “All the world is not, of course, a stage, but the crucial ways in which it isn’t are not easy to specify.’
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