Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It (2023)

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Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It (1)

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Have you ever wondered what the term “impression management” means? It’s often used in many different contexts, but you might not know precisely what it means.

Impression management is the process of managing how other people see you. It can be conscious or unconscious, but the intention is always to present oneself favorably through verbal and nonverbal acts like highlighting one’s best qualities and hiding flaws. When it comes to impression management, it’s essential to know when it may be appropriate.

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Although impression management is something we all do to some extent, there are certain times when it becomes especially important, such as when we’re trying to impress a new boss or when we’re going on a job interview. Impression management can be tricky, but it can help you achieve your goals if done well. This blog post will explain impression management, its importance, and strategies to manage it.

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(Video) Impression management | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

Who Coined impression management?

Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It (2)

In 1959,Erving Goffmanproposed the idea of Impression Management. The book was initially released in ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.’ In 1967, the concept was further developed.

Sociologists and theorists have widely studied and applied impression management theory to understand human interaction better. Erving Goffman first coined the concept in 1959, and from then on, it has been further developed and refined by other sociologists and theorists. Its theory posits that individuals attempt to control the impressions others form of them. This is done through self-presentation, which is how we present ourselves to others. Impression management is an ongoing process that happens in everyday interactions.

The study ofimpression managementhas evolved out of two different lines of research. The first line of research focuses on elements that influence the impressions people try to convey, whereas the second line applies self-presentational views to other psychological phenomena.

It is important to note that impression management is not just about deception or creating a false impression. Instead, it is about shaping the impression others have of us to achieve our goals. Impression management theory can better understand a wide range of social phenomena, from why people dress a certain way to behave in different situations. In short, impression management theory is a valuable tool for understanding human interaction.

Related: Erving Goffman

What is impression management?

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Impression management(also known as self-presentation) manages how others perceive you.

Impression management is a conscious or subconscious process in which people attempt to influence other people’s perceptions about themselves by regulating and controlling information in social interaction.

People want to be liked by other people. If they feel that their public image is essential and a gap exists between how they want others to see them and how they are seen, they will try harder to control how others perceive them.

The impressions that individuals are attempting to communicate are influenced by their roles and norms in the social environment, the values of those whose perceptions are of interest, how they think they currently appear, their self-concepts, and their ideal and undesirable selves.

If you are an impression management professional, your goal is to influence your products’ observations and opinions. Most people who manage impressions try to align other people’s perceptions with their goals. We use impression management a lot in business and our personal lives.

For example, someone in aleadershipposition strives to be respected and tries to control and keep the impression; they wear a sharp suit, carry a briefcase, and responsibly conduct themself. The individual’s professional clothing and imposing stature play a significant role in impression management.

Related: First Impression

Why is impression management important?

People use impression management for various reasons, but the primary purpose is to establish or preserve someone’s social standing. In business, this is especially important because companies rely on their societal perception to convince people to do business with them. People can use impression management tactics for anything from making friends to getting a job.

However, it’s essential to understand your motivation for impression management before attempting to achieve any particular outcome. If you’re clear about why you’re trying to manage someone’s impression of you, it will be easier to choose the right tactics and achieve your desired results.

When to use impression management?

There’s no definitive answer to this question, as the use of impression management will vary depending on the situation. Generally speaking, though, it’s usually advisable to use impression management when you want to make a good first impression, when you need to build or repair relationships with others, or when you’re seeking to advance your career.

Impression management can be used in various ways, such as through body language, communication style, and dress code. By being mindful of the signals you send out and making sure that you present yourself in a positive light, you can make a strong impression that will help you achieve your goals.

What is an example of impression management?

Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It (4)

For example, let’s say that you’re going on a job interview. You know that first impressions are important, so you want to make sure you give off the right vibe. You might decide to use the strategy of self-promotion, which involves emphasizing your positive qualities and downplaying any negatives.

Alternatively, you might try ingratiation, which involves flattery and praise. Or you could go with intimidation, which consists of making yourself seem more qualified than the other candidates. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which strategy is best suited for the situation. It’s important to remember that not all forms of impression management are equally effective.

What are the two primary types of impression management?

Constructive: One that helps form self-identity. We often see this constructiveimpressionwith advertising companies who want to create a new brand or product line and market it as desirable. Starbucks is an excellent example of a company that has successfully marketed itself by associating with other trendy brands like Nike and Coca-Cola. It also uses words such as ‘exciting’ when describing what makes people come back repeatedly. These constructed associations have helped build the brand’s positive image, which can be translated into more sales thanks to these “cool” associations between products/brands (creating desire).

Strategic: One that helps achieve interpersonal goals. We often use strategic impression management to achieve personal goals in our professional lives. When attending a job interview or a conference, dressing appropriately and regulating your tone and language are examples of this strategy.

What are the five 5 important factors to impression management?

Impressment management is a deliberate or unintentional technique through which individuals attempt to influence the views of others. It has five dimensions: self-promotion, exemplification, ingratiation, defensive behavior, and deception.

(Video) What is Impression Management?

1. Self-promotion

Self-promotion is a crucial part of impression management, which tries to control how others perceive us. We often engage in impression management to make a good first impression or manage our reputations.

While self-promotion can be an effective way to improve our image, it can also backfire if we come across as arrogant or self-centered.

It’s essential to strike a balance when self-promoting and to be aware of the impression we’re giving off to others. However, if done in moderation and with tact, self-promotion can be a helpful tool in managing our image and reputation.

2. Exemplification

Exemplification is an impression management strategy that employees can use to demonstrate their willingness to do more than what is required. This type of strategy can help employees control how others perceive them. Exemplifiers may use this strategy to show their dedication to their job or company or display their superior skillset. Additionally, exemplification can also build trust and credibility with an audience.

When used effectively, exemplification can be a powerful tool for employees. However, it is important to note that this strategy should only be used when necessary and not overused. It can backfire if audiences perceive the employee as insincere or trying too hard. However, when used appropriately, exemplification can help employees build positive relationships with others and improve their overall standing within a company or organization.

3. Ingratiation

People use ingratiation to make themselves more likable and to build relationships. For example, when we meet someone new, we often try to ingratiate ourselves by behaving in ways that we think will please others. For example, people often laugh at others’ jokes even when they’re not funny, or they may flatter someone by complimenting them.

While ingratiation can be an effective way to build relationships, it can also be seen as manipulative if it’s not done genuinely. For example, if you’re constantly trying to please others and make them like you, they may eventually see through your act and realize that you’re not being sincere.

So, what is the best way to use ingratiation? As with most things in life, moderation is key. A little bit of flattery and laughter can go a long way in making a good impression, but too much of either one may backfire. Just be yourself and let your genuine qualities shine through when in doubt.

4. Defensive

When we make a mistake, it’s only natural to want to hide it and hope that nobody notices. However, this isn’t always possible, and when our mistakes are exposed, we need to face the consequences. One way of doing this is through defensive impression management (IM). This involves admitting responsibility for the mistake and seeking forgiveness simultaneously. We show that we’re aware of our actions and consequences by taking responsibility. And by asking for forgiveness, we demonstrate that we’re willing to make amends.

This technique can effectively manage our public image, especially when we’ve made a serious error. However, it’s essential to use it sparingly, as constantly seeking pardon for our mistakes can damage our credibility. Done right, though, defensive IM can help us repair our reputation and move on from our mistakes.

5. Deceptive

Deceptive impression management intentionally distorts information to make a favorable impression in an employment interview. While it is not uncommon for applicants to use deceptive IM tactics, the extent to which they do so can vary greatly. In some cases, applicants may simply withhold information that could negatively impact their chances of being hired. In other cases, they may go so far as to provide false information or exaggerate their qualifications. Regardless of the approach used, the goal is always the same: to create a favorable impression with the interviewer and increase the chances of being hired.

While deceptive IM can effectively get a foot in the door, it is important to note that it is not without risks. First and foremost, there is always the risk of being caught in a lie, damaging your credibility and reputation. Additionally, even if you are not caught lying, your employer may eventually discover that you were not truthful in your interview, leading to termination. Therefore, before using any deception in an interview, carefully weigh the risks and benefits.

What are Impression management strategies?

Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It (5)

There are various methods that people and enterprises use to manage their impressions. You can use a single technique or combine multiple strategies to manage how others perceive you. Some common and successful impression management techniques include:

1. Flattery

Flattery is the act of giving compliments with the conscious or subconscious intention of ingratiating oneself with the other person. It is often used as a tool for manipulation and can be an effective means of persuasion. When used skillfully, flattery can be a harmless and even charming way to make a good impression. However, it can also be insincere and insubstantial, making the flatterer appear shallow and disingenuous. In its worst form, flattery is a manipulation tool used to exploit or control others.

It is important to be genuine and sincere when giving compliments to avoid insincere or insubstantial. Thanking people for their time or holding a particular opinion is a great way to show that you’re conscious of their thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, the goal of flattery should be to make the other person feel good about themselves, not to control or exploit them.

2. Redirection

Redirection is a conscious or subconscious process that involves shifting someone’s focus from one subject to another. It can be an effective impression management technique because it distracts people from negative information by replacing it with positive information. This can involve changing the subject or discussing information from a new perspective.

Advertisers often use redirection when acknowledging the negative aspects of their product but justifying those negatives by highlighting a positive immediately afterward. By doing this, they hope to redirect the consumer’s attention away from the negatives and towards the positives of their product.

While redirection can effectively manage impressions, it is important to know when and how it is used. Redirection can sometimes be manipulative, such as when politicians try to deflect questions about their policies by changing the subject. It is also essential to consider whether the presented information is positive; sometimes, what appears to be positive information may just be another form of negative information. When used thoughtfully and honestly, however, redirection can be a helpful tool for managing impressions.

3. Bragging

Bragging is a direct form of impression management that is most effective when the person bragging has already built authority and trust with their audience. People may be more likely to believe that the person embodies positive attributes if they already have a positive association with the person in other ways. Conversely, bragging too much or comparing oneself to others can leave a negative impression. For example, if a person wants to show that they are successful while still appearing modest, bragging about their money and lifestyle may have the opposite effect of what was intended.

Another way to brag effectively is to let others do the talking for you. This is especially useful if you are self-conscious about bragging directly or feel you might come across as conceited. Allowing others to sing your praises indirects comes across as more humble and genuine, making it more likely that people will believe what is said. Ultimately, whether or not bragging is seen as positive or negative depends on the person’s intention of doing the bragging and how the listener receives it.

4. Transparency

Although it may seem counterintuitive, sharing your weaknesses can be a strength. When you’re transparent about your faults, you’re self-aware and confident enough to admit them. This can help cultivate trust and make people more sympathetic to your goals or needs.

(Video) Impression Management

Admitting your shortcomings upfront can also help to distract from the negative information and make it appear less severe. By being transparent about your flaws, you’re appealing to other people’s sense of honesty and integrity. Although you’re sharing negative information, transparency shows that you can be direct, which is valuable in any relationship.

5. Conformity

People conform for a variety of reasons. It may be simple to fit in or feel accepted in some cases. After all, humans are social creatures, and the need to belong is deeply ingrained in our psyches. On the other hand, people may conform to a desire to avoid conflict or stand out from the crowd in other cases. Whatever the reason, conformity is often seen as a negative trait.

However, there are also times when conformity can be beneficial. For example, upholding social norms helps maintain order and stability within society. In addition, conformity can also make it easier to influence others. By aligning your behavior with the expectations of those around you, you can more easily gain their trust and cooperation. So while conformity may not always be desirable, it does serve an important purpose in our social lives.

6. Favors

We have all done favors for others at one time or another. Whether it is taking on extra work so that a coworker can attend their child’s school play or running an errand for a neighbor, we have all helped others somehow. While there is nothing wrong with doing favors for others, we should be careful that we are not doing them simply to receive approval or acceptance.

If we are only helping others because we want something in return, then we are not genuinely being helpful. Instead, we should strive to do acts of kindness simply because they are the right thing to do. Then, when we do favors for others out of the goodness of our hearts, we can be sure that we are making a positive impact on their lives.

7. Association

People often associate with others to protect or promote their self-image. For example, people might network at conferences to reach out to more people in their industry later. In some cases, people might associate with others to gain social capital or access specific resources.

Others might associate with others to feel a sense of belonging or because they share similar values. An association can be a powerful tool for shaping our identity and relationships with others.

What are impression management techniques?

Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It (6)

To sound like an informative expert onimpression management, learn to differentiate between constructive and destructive techniques. We use common tactics in everyday life — here’s a list of them!

1. Excuses

Making excuses for our mistakes and delays can help us move on from the negative consequences. Not only do they allow for some leeway in terms of punishment, but sometimes these are self-inflicted justifications; no matter how hard we try, something will go wrong!

2. Acclaim

It means to proudly and openly acknowledge somebody when they do their work correctly or adequately. For example, managers give employees who have done well an appreciative pat on the back in team feedback sessions. Employees typically want to know they are doing a good job. Therefore, managers should do their best to point out when somebody has done something well to avoid getting lost in all the other feedback given by supervisors during team meetings or one-on-one conversations with employees.

3. Conformity

Conforming to the environment is necessary if you want to be accepted and successful. You need to fit in with the group norms or risk being ostracized by your peers, impacting how people see you later on down the line. Conformity often happens subconsciously, but we must understand why this cognitive bias exists before making rash decisions about what conformity means for us individually.

4. Favors

What are the types of favors? What’s in it for you if someone does a favor instead of something they would prefer doing, anyway? Unfortunately, there is no universally agreed-upon list. However, there seem to be three main categories:

  1. Favors that advance one side over another (usually called “favors” or “trade-offs”).
  2. Favors are based on reciprocity.
  3. Association.

Some people will use their associations to promote or protect their self-image. For example, many professionals network at conferences to make connections and have more opportunities in the future for professional development.

5. Self Presentation

It is essential to convey your best qualities or downplay what may be perceived as a weakness. When a person gains a positive social media reputation, it is well known for their self-promotional abilities and tricks to get noticed by brands.

Who uses impression management?

Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It (7)

Most people are unaware of impression management’s role in their lives. This is because impression management is often used in subtle ways that we don’t even realize. For example, have you ever changed how you described yourself or your interests based on who you talked to? Maybe you downplayed your intelligence when talking to someone who wasn’t doing well in school or pretended to be interested in a topic you knew your friend was passionate about. These are both examples of impression management. Essentially, it’s manipulating what others think about you to achieve a particular goal.

While some might see impression management as dishonest, it’s a common and perfectly normal phenomenon. Everyone does it to some degree, whether they’re aware of it or not. So the next time you find yourself changing the way you talk about yourself, don’t be alarmed – you’re just doing what we all do.

What did Goffman mean about the social self?

In his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, sociologist Erving Goffman offers a theatrical metaphor to explain how people interact with each other. He likens social interaction to a theater performance, with people playing various roles on a stage. The audience consists of other individuals who observe the role-playing and react to the performances.

This metaphor helps us understand how people present themselves to others and how they manage the impressions others form of them. It also helps to explain why people may behave differently in different situations. For example, shy and introverted in one context may be extroverted and outgoing. By understanding that we perform different roles in other contexts, we can better understand and manage our social interactions.

How does advertising use impression management?

Advertisers use impression management to control the way people think about their products and services. By controlling the messages people see and hear, advertisers can influence how people form opinions about a brand. For example, a company might release a press release that paints their product in a positive light, or they may post favorable reviews on their website.

Advertisers may also use video or print advertisements to create an image of their brand that is favorable to consumers. Impression management is an essential tool for advertisers, as it allows them to control the conversation around their products and services. Advertisers can ensure that people have positive associations with their brand by using impression management, leading to increased sales and market share.

How is impression management used in the workplace?

At its most basic, impression management is the act of trying to control the way that other people perceive you. In the workplace context, this can take on several different forms. For example, you might dress a certain way or behave in a certain way to present yourself positively to your potential employer. Or, once you have landed the job, you might try to impress your boss with your work ethic and dedication to earn a promotion.

(Video) impression management

First impressions are more important than ever in today’s competitive job market, so impression management has become an increasingly common strategy for job seekers. But it’s not just those looking for a job who use impression management; it’s also those who are already employed and looking to advance their career. In addition, by making a good impression on your boss or superiors, you increase your chances of being considered for a raise or promotion. In short, impression management is a way to make yourself stand out from the crowd – and in the workplace, that can be extremely valuable.

Related: Management

Final Thoughts

As you can see, impression management is a delicate process that should be managed thoughtfully and carefully. It’s important to note there can be adverse effects if things are not handled correctly, but it also can positively impact your business performance. Having the right skill set in this marketing orcommunications area could influence how people view your company or product.

In this article, we’ve covered what impression management is and why it matters, along with various techniques that might help improve how an audience views your company or product- self-promotion being one of them! We hope these ideas will inspire a plan to manage impressions more effectively while maintaining authenticity.


What is impression management?

Impressions management entails a deliberate or unintentional effort to influence perceptions, decisions, and opinions. In other words, it’s a method for influencing others’ impressions in social interactions.

How do you maintain a positive impression?

There are three main ways people can maintain a positive impression: authentic, helpful, and responsive.

When should a company use impression management?

A company should use impression management to create an image of being more trustworthy, having more professionalism, and being more credible in the public’s eyes.

Is impression management good or bad?

Impression management is trying to control how other people perceive you. It can be a valuable tool for job interviews, first dates, and other high-stakes situations. However, it can also backfire if you are inauthentic or insincere. It may be better to be honest, and let your true self shine through in some cases.
Ultimately, the best approach depends on the situation and your goals. For example, if you’re simply trying to make a good first impression, a little bit of impression management is probably harmless. But if you’re trying to build a long-term relationship based on trust and mutual respect, it’s probably best to be yourself.

What is your first impression?

A first impression is what a person thinks when encountering or meeting another person. It is the feeling that a person gets due to their initial evaluation of another individual. The first impression can happen within seconds of meeting someone and can be based on many factors, such as appearance, body language, tone of voice, and even smell.
Once we form a first impression of someone, it can be complicated to change that opinion, even if we later learn that our initial assessment was inaccurate. Because first impressions are so important, we must ensure that ours are positive. One way to do this is to smile and make eye contact when meeting someone for the first time. We send the message that we are open, friendly, and interested in getting to know the other person.

What is Self Presentation theory?

Self-presentation is a theory that explores how we try to control the way others see us and how we see ourselves. It is a skill that can be used to achieve a level of comfort with who we are and feel confident in choosing how we self-present. The theory suggests that we are constantly trying to present ourselves in the best light possible, whether it is through our words, actions, or appearance.
We want others to see us as competent, likable, and trustworthy, so we try to control how they perceive us. At the same time, self-presentation is also about how we see ourselves. We use it as a tool to build our self-image and confidence. By choosing how we self-present, we can exercise some control over the way others see us and how we see ourselves.

What is social psychological research?

Social psychological research is designed to understand how people think, feel, and behave in social situations. The methods used in social psychology research are varied, but all aim to understand why people do things in social situations.
In some cases, researchers use surveys and interviews to gather data about how people think and feel about social issues. In other cases, experiments are conducted to test hypotheses about how social situations influence behavior. No matter what method is used, the goal of social psychology research is always to improve our understanding of human social behavior.

(Video) 15. Impression Management & its Techniques in Organizational Behaviour |OB|


  1. Goffman, E.(1959).The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.Doubleday: New York, NY, USA, 1959.
  2. According to O’Sullivan’s (2000) impression management model of communication channels, individuals will prefer to use mediated channels rather than a face-to-face conversations in face-threatening situations. (
  3. The presentation of self in everyday life: Goffman, Erving: Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming: Internet Archive
  4. 30 min Exploratory Call – Impression Management Professionals
  5. Tedeschi, J. T. (Ed.). (2013).Impression management theory and social psychological research.Academic Press.


Impression Management: What It Is and When to Use It? ›

A few examples of impression management are: A person who only tells others of their achievements to appear successful. A person who only speaks highly of their significant other to persuade their parents to like them.

What is impression management and explain with an example? ›

A few examples of impression management are: A person who only tells others of their achievements to appear successful. A person who only speaks highly of their significant other to persuade their parents to like them.

What is impression management and why do people use it? ›

Impression management is the sum total of actions we take — both consciously and unconsciously — to influence how others perceive us. We often attempt to manage how people see us to make us more likely to achieve our goals. People use impression management to align how we're seen with what we want.

What is impression management quizlet? ›

Impression Management. -any behavior intended to create, modify, or maintain an impression of ourselves in the minds of others.

What is meant by impression management? ›

Impression management(also called self-presentation involves the processes by which people control how they are perceived by others.


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