People Innovation Excellence

What You Need to Know About : Impression Management

Impression management is not a clearly focused theory but a construct representing the presentation and maintenance of social identity during interaction. When scholars speak about managing an impression, they are not suggesting an artificial or manipulative agenda. They are simply referring to the image that a person displays during interaction. Some scholars use the term social or public self to distinguish social identity from the private self. As individuals, we are constituted of countless idiosyncrasies—habits, mannerisms, beliefs, attitudes, values, abilities, needs, interests, family history, and so forth. When interacting with others, we cannot display all aspects of our private self. We therefore select characteristics from our psychological and behavioral matrix that we believe will present the person (the self) we should be during that occasion. We might be aware that we do this only when our identity is important, such as preparing for a job interview, or when we have lost our composure during an embarrassing experience. However, we actually display a social self during all our interactions—during a conversation with friends, when conducting a meeting at work, as a student in the classroom, and even on a first date. Indeed, although cultural norms for what is appropriate may differ, individuals within all cultures present and manage the impression they believe to be appropriate for a particular context.

Few concepts are more fundamental to our understanding of communication than impression management. If individuals did construct a public self constrained by interaction norms, coherent communication would not be possible. Individuals would simply say whatever was on their mind, would enter and leave the conversation at will, and respond (or not respond) randomly to the comments of others. In short, without recognizing and adhering to norms of appropriate communication conduct, the co-construction of meaning would not be possible. The purpose of this entry is to provide the historical background for the concept of impression management and then to integrate the several related theories into a model of impression management goals and strategies.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.654

Penanggungjawab naskah :

Gayes Mahestu
Edwina Ayu Kustiawan

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