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

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Books and Core Texts
  • Citizenship Behaviors as Strategies of Impression Management
  • Other Behaviors as Strategies of Impression Management
  • Taxonomies of Impression Management
  • Models of Impression Management
  • Key Influences on Impression Management
  • Impression Management in Job Interviews
  • The “Dark Side” of Impression Management
  • Impression Management and Gender
  • Impression Management Across Cultures
  • Similar Constructs
  • Organizational Impression Management

Management Impression Management at Work
David Long
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 March 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0136


Impression management (IM) is the ways in which people’s behavior is influenced by their concerns with how they are perceived, evaluated, and accepted by others. The research on the topic in the management literature has primarily focused on the various strategies (i.e., tactics) employees use to try to satisfy their image-related goals, and the effectiveness of those strategies. Some researchers use the terms impression management and influence tactics interchangeably; however, the former term is more about managing others’ perceptions, while the latter is more about managing others’ behaviors. Impression management is also referred to as self-presentation and includes an actor, a target audience, and sometimes a third-party observer.

General Overviews

There are many quantitative and qualitative reviews on impression management in the workplace. Gordon 1996 offered a meta-analysis of the relationships between the tactic of ingratiation and various workplace outcomes, and Higgins and Judge 2004 expanded that effort by including the tactic of self-promotion. Barrick, et al. 2009 then meta-analyzed the impression management literature in the context of job interviews and performance ratings, with a focus on the relationship between ingratiation, non-verbal behaviors (e.g., appearance), and performance. Finally, Smith, et al. 2013 meta-analytically examined the gendered nature of impression management. In addition to these quantitative reviews, there are several conceptual and qualitative reviews of impression management. The first of these was put forward by Gardner and Martinko 1988. These authors reviewed the extant impression management research and offered a model explaining how the impression management process unfolds for both actors (e.g., employees) and targets (e.g., coworkers, supervisors). Bolino, et al. 2008 then reviewed the research on impression management since the Gardner and Martinko 1988 article, offering a twenty-year update and including a typology of “good” and “bad” impression management tactics focused on either the actor or the target. More recently, Bolino, et al. 2016 summarized the research on impression management in organizations, providing a three-decade overview and including a summary of the various ways impression management can be measured.

  • Barrick, Murray R., Jonathan A. Shaffer, and Sandra W. Degrassi. “What You See May Not Be What You Get: Relationships among Self-Presentation Tactics and Ratings of Interview and Job Performance.” Journal of Applied Psychology 94.6 (2009): 1394–1411.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0016532

    A comprehensive meta-analysis of the links between impression management and job-interview performance. Results suggest that unstructured interviews are most susceptible to impression management tactics.

  • Bolino, Mark C., K. Michele Kacmar, William H. Turnley, and J. Bruce Gilstrap. “A Multi-Level Review of Impression Management Motives and Behaviors.” Journal of Management 34.6 (2008): 1080–1109.

    DOI: 10.1177/0149206308324325

    An important and detailed two-decade review of the impression management literature. This review covers individual and organizational levels of analyses; lists and defines the extant impression management behaviors; and provides a typology of impression management tactics based on goal and focus of each tactic.

  • Bolino, Mark, David Long, and William Turnley. “Impression Management in Organizations: Critical Questions, Answers, and Areas for Future Research.” Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 3 (2016): 377–406.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-041015-062337

    This in-depth article reviews the literature on impression management and provides a summary of the various ways to measure impression management.

  • Gardner, William L., and Mark J. Martinko. “Impression Management in Organizations.” Journal of Management 14.2 (1988): 321–338.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920638801400210

    This influential article reviews the literature on impression management and offers a comprehensive model of the processes connecting actor impression management and audience reactions.

  • Gordon, Randall A. “Impact of Ingratiation on Judgments and Evaluations: A Meta-Analytic Investigation.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71.1 (1996): 54–70.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.71.1.54

    A meta-analysis of the links between ingratiation and several outcomes, including liking and performance evaluations. Results show a positive effect between ingratiation and these outcomes.

  • Higgins, Chad A., and Timothy A. Judge. “The Effect of Applicant Influence Tactics on Recruiter Perceptions of Fit and Hiring Recommendations: A Field Study.” Journal of Applied Psychology 89.4 (2004): 622–632.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.89.4.622

    A meta-analysis of the links between ingratiation and self-promotion to several work outcomes, including job performance and extrinsic success. Results suggest that ingratiation has a positive effect on multiple outcomes, but that self-promotion is only effective during interviews.

  • Smith, Alexis N., Marla B. Watkins, Michael J. Burke, et al. “Gendered Influence: A Gender Role Perspective on the Use and Effectiveness of Influence Tactics.” Journal of Management 39.5 (2013): 1156–1183.

    DOI: 10.1177/0149206313478183

    This research investigated the links between gender and impression management. Overall, the work suggested that influence tactics may be gendered in nature such that there may be gender differences in the frequency of use and subsequent outcomes.

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