Sociological Theory/Impression Management

In social psychology, impression management is the process through which people try to control the impressions other people form of them. It is usually synonymous with self-presentation.

The goal is for one to present themselves the way in which they would like to be thought of by the individual or group they are interacting with. This form of management generally applies to the first impression.

Impression management (IM) is the goal-directed conscious or unconscious attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event by regulating and controlling information in social interaction. If a person tries to influence the perception of her or his own image, this activity is called self-presentation. Strategic interpersonal behavior to shape or influence impressions formed by an audience is not a new field; it has a rich history. Plato spoke of the "great 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 seventeenth century. Goffman (Goffman, 1959) also followed in his seminal book "The presentation of self in everyday life" a dramaturgical analogy. Impression management (IM) is situated in social psychology.

The audience can be real or imaginary. IM style norms, part of the mental programming received through socialization, are so fundamental that we usually do not notice our expectations of them. While an actor (speaker) tries to project a desired image, an audience (listener) might attribute a resonant or discordant image.