Impression Management



Impression Management

According to some sociologists, as we go about our lives, we try to control or manage the impression that we make on others in social situations. When we do this, we are practicing what sociologists call impression management. Even in everyday, ordinary interactions, we make special preparations—sometimes unconsciously—to convey certain information about ourselves that influences how others perceive us. These preparations often involve our personal appearance—how we look during the social interaction—as well as the social setting, which is the place where the social interaction occurs.

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    <-NARRATOR:-> Now listen to part of a lecture in a sociology class on this topic.
    <-MALE PROFESSOR:-> Have you noticed how when a student gives a class presentation, they might dress just a little more formally than usual?
    For example, if you usually wear jeans and a T-shirt to class, you might wear nicer pants and a nice shirt or sweater because, you know, you’re dressing up.
    You want people to know—even before you begin speaking—that you take this presentation seriously, that you’ve come prepared, that you’re a responsible student, that you’ve got a good presentation for us…
    you get the idea.
    Or, here’s another example.
    There was this one time where I knew I was going to be giving the, uh, president of the university a ride; it was to a meeting across town.
    Anyway, the day before I was supposed to give him a ride, I…
    I wasn’t even aware of doing this, but the day before I was supposed to give him a ride,
    I took the trash out of the back seat and even had the car washed—
    I suppose I was thinking in the back of my mind that, you know, if my car was neat and tidy, the president would think that I was, um, responsible, respectful….
    And then, to top it off, when the president got in the car, I changed the radio to a classical station.
    Now, I don’t even like classical music.
    I guess I must have been thinking that classical music would seem more, um, sophisticated.


Explain the concept of impression management, using the examples provided by the professor.


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