In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Impression Management

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Core Texts
  • The Process of Impression Management
  • The Effect of Impression Management on the Self

Communication Impression Management
Nurit Tal-Or
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 May 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 May 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0120


Since the seminal works of Goffman in sociology and Jones in social psychology, scholars interested in interpersonal communication have established that people attempt to influence the way they are perceived by others. Research has documented the variety of impression management tactics that people use in order to be liked or perceived as competent or as threatening, and at times even as incapable. People use impression management tactics when they anticipate a threat to their face and when the threat to their face has already occurred. Besides documenting the use of impression management, research has also examined the underlying motives for and the effectiveness of the various tactics. Impression management has been shown to have an impact in an assortment of contexts ranging from organizational behaviors to health risk conduct.

General Overviews

All of the following overviews provide literature reviews on impression management. The review Leary and Kowalski 1990 is situated in a model that differentiates between the motivation for and construction of impression management. Cody and MacLaughlin 1990 focuses on the description of actual strategies (see also Jones and Pittman 1982, cited under Exemplification, Intimidation, and Supplication), Baumeister 1982 reviews the application of impression management to various areas, and Leary and Miller 2000 discusses impression management in the context of interpersonal relationships.

  • Baumeister, Roy F. 1982. A self-presentational view of social phenomena. Psychological Bulletin 91.1: 3–26.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.91.1.3

    This paper presents a review of the literature related to impression management with a focus on demonstrating its relevance to an assortment of areas including altruistic behavior, aggressive behavior, and attitude change.

  • Cody, Michael J., and Margaret L. MacLaughlin, eds. 1990. The psychology of tactical communication. Vol. 2. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

    An edited volume whose second part is particularly relevant to impression management. It includes chapters about various strategies of self-presentation and account giving.

  • Leary, Mark R., and Robin M. Kowalski. 1990. Impression management: A literature review and two-component model. Psychological Bulletin 107.1: 34–47.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.107.1.34

    This paper reviews the impression management literature within a proposed model that differentiates between the motivation for impression management and the construction of an impression, and explains the causes of these two processes.

  • Leary, Mark R., and Rowland S. Miller. 2000. Self-presentational perspectives on personal relationships. In The social psychology of personal relationships. Edited by William John Ickes and Steve Duck, 129–155. New York: Wiley.

    This chapter examines impression management in interpersonal relationships, exploring topics such as the association between impression management and self-disclosure, and the process of managing the impression of one’s partner and of the relationship. It situates the study of impression management within the research on close relationships.

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