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Impression management

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Impression management is a theory founded by Erving Goffman, which focuses on how individuals present themselves in everyday life to achieve personal goals. It is the process of controlling or influencing how others perceive us. This practice is essential in both real and imagined social situations, with individuals often being conscious of their actions being observed. Impression management is influenced by cultural norms and personal goals and can be used to satisfy personal needs and desires. It involves various strategies, including self-disclosure and ingratiation, and often requires a balance between asserting oneself and avoiding excessive self-promotion. Ultimately, successful impression management can enhance one’s social capital[1], and it plays a significant role in self-esteem maintenance.

Terms definitions
1. social capital. Social capital refers to the networks, relationships, and norms of trust that individuals form within a community, which allow them to work together effectively. The concept has historical roots dating back to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, with its modern usage beginning in the 1890s. Notably, Lyda Hanifan, John Dewey, and Robert Putnam contributed to its development. It is a complex term with various interpretations, including economic, cultural, and social aspects. Social capital fosters societal functioning, entrepreneurship, and strategic alliances, despite potential negative effects such as the rise of harmful movements or perpetuating inequality. Difficulties in measurement and access, particularly due to geographic and social isolation, are key considerations. The concept is often divided into bonding, bridging, and linking types.

Impression management is a conscious or subconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event by regulating and controlling information in social interaction. It was first conceptualized by Erving Goffman in 1959 in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, and then was expanded upon in 1967.

Impression management behaviors include accounts (providing "explanations for a negative event to escape disapproval"), excuses (denying "responsibility for negative outcomes"), and opinion conformity ("speak(ing) or behav(ing) in ways consistent with the target"), along with many others. By utilizing such behaviors, those who partake in impression management are able to control others' perception of them or events pertaining to them. Impression management is possible in nearly any situation, such as in sports (wearing flashy clothes or trying to impress fans with their skills), or on social media (only sharing positive posts). Impression management can be used with either benevolent or malicious intent.

Impression management is usually used synonymously with self-presentation, in which a person tries to influence the perception of their image. The notion of impression management was first applied to face-to-face communication, but then was expanded to apply to computer-mediated communication. The concept of impression management is applicable to academic fields of study such as psychology and sociology as well as practical fields such as corporate communication and media.

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