What Is Self-Presentation in Social Psychology?


Vincent White

Self-presentation is an important concept in social psychology that refers to the way individuals present themselves to others. It encompasses how individuals attempt to control or influence the impressions that others have of them, as well as the strategies and tactics used to achieve these goals.

What Is Self-Presentation?

Self-presentation can be defined as a conscious or unconscious effort by an individual to control or influence the way they are perceived by others. It involves a range of behaviors, such as dressing appropriately for a job interview, using body language effectively during a presentation, or strategically sharing personal information in conversation.

Theories of Self-Presentation

Two major theories related to self-presentation are impression management and self-monitoring.

Impression management: This theory suggests that individuals try to control their image in order to create specific impressions on others. The goal is often to create a positive impression that will lead to favorable outcomes, such as getting a job offer or making new friends.

Self-monitoring: This theory suggests that individuals vary in their ability and desire to adjust their behavior based on social cues and context. High self-monitors are more likely to change their behavior based on the situation, while low self-monitors tend to behave consistently across situations.

Strategies for Self-Presentation

There are several strategies individuals use when attempting to present themselves in a positive light:

  • Ingratiation: This involves using flattery or compliments in order to gain favor from others.
  • Self-promotion: This strategy involves highlighting one’s own accomplishments and abilities.
  • Intimidation: This involves using threats or aggressive behavior in order to gain compliance from others.
  • Supplication: This involves playing the role of a helpless victim in order to gain sympathy or help from others.

The Effects of Self-Presentation

Self-presentation can have both positive and negative effects on individuals and their relationships:

Positive effects: Effective self-presentation can lead to increased social status, improved job prospects, and stronger relationships.

Negative effects: Ineffective self-presentation can lead to negative judgments from others, decreased job prospects, and weaker relationships.


Self-presentation is a complex concept that plays an important role in social interactions. By understanding the strategies and tactics that individuals use to control their image, we can gain insights into how people navigate social situations and build relationships. Whether consciously or unconsciously, self-presentation is a fundamental aspect of human behavior that shapes the way we interact with others.