Impression management in the context of the looking glass self

Impression management is the collection of unconscious approaches that social beings use to influence how other people see them. Impression management serves to explain the way a person speaks, gestures, clothes and the name a person chooses to use on social media for a profile. In choosing the outward signs to communicate, human beings try to imagine how others might decode and relate to the signs. As a result, people will choose signs that are likely to adopt signs that can elicit the desired or positive decoding. Through successful impression management, we not only receive a positive response from others but it also serves us a constant self-presentation. This implies that we create and maintain a consistent story of who we are.

The looking-glass self refers to the procedure by which social beings judge themselves following how others perceive them. This concept posits that people imagine how others see them. Then, they think of how others judge them following how they appear. In the end, they react in an emotional manner to these imagined judgements, like embarrassment or self-worth. Such self-evaluation would then influence an individual’s feeling of self-esteem or self-worth. In essence, the looking glass concept claims that by reflecting on how other people see us, we can then come to understand ourselves.

Impressions management draws largely on the looking glass theory. It tends to approach the dynamic self via that self’s position in a social setting, composed of other identities and selves. When people adopt impression management in their face-to-face social surroundings, they often do so in an unconscious manner. For instance, a person’s thought when experiencing impressions management could be “I had calculated that”. However, after reflecting on the issue, the individual would learn that s/he made the decision based on how others might perceive him/her. This means that human beings have been encultured to manage their impressions such that they cannot notice that they are doing it.


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