SOCIAL & PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY
1ST YEAR MAJOR COURSE
CONSIDER THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SELF-PRESENTATION AND
As people's outcomes in life depend heavily on how others perceive and evaluate them, they
are motivated to convey certain impressions of themselves to others and to refrain from
conveying other, undesired impressions. Thus, no matter what else they may be doing,
people typically monitor and control their impressions, i.e. a process known as:
self-presentation. A great deal of human behaviour is, in part, determined or constrained
by people's concerns with others' impressions and evaluations of them.
Because all human beings are different from one another, the thought process used which
results in the self-presentation of a person will also differ from person to person.
In this case the potential factor effecting the self-presentation of an individual is that of
the self-esteem of the individual. Selfesteem being: " An affective component of the self,
consisting of a persons' positive and negative self-evaluations." (Brehm, 1999).
Although most people have high self-esteem, there are various ways in which self-esteem
can be measured; for example when someone is referring to a persons condition at a
specific moment in time it is referred to as a "state". If the condition is something which
is an average over a period of time it is known as a "trait". Someone who has low
self-esteem as a trait is considered to be worse off than a person who is in a
state of low self-esteem. Low self esteem is though to have several side affects, both
mental and physical which inevitably affect the self-presentation of a person.
Low self esteem can lead onto other ailments of negativity such as: anxiety and depression.
Once low self-esteem sets into a person it triggers off a self-defeating cycle in which negative
expectations impair performance, which in turn reinforces low self-esteem. This cycle is
known as: "The Vicious Cycle of Low Self-Esteem" (Brehm, 1999).
On the contrary from people with low self-esteem, people with high self-esteem tend to
have a much better quality of life and are happier within themselves, healthier, more
productive and successful which all reflects on their self-presentation: "People high in
self-esteem are confident and bring to new challenges a winning and motivating attitude. In
contrast, people low in self-esteem lack confidence and bring to new tasks a losing attitude
that traps them in a vicious, self defeating cycle" (Brehm, 1999). (As described above).
People who have entered this cycle of low self-esteem tend to undergo a behavioural
pattern known as "self-handicapping", whereby their behaviour is designed to sabotage
They're own performance in order to provide a subsequent excuse for failure. This behaviour
is seen as a face-saving defence mechanism against failure for people low in self-esteem
as proved the experiment: "Self-handicapping: To protect or Enhance Self-Esteem"
(Tice, 1991). This is an experiment where participants worked on a task that supposedly
measured intelligence. When participants were focused on succeeding, those with high
self-esteem practised less. When participants were led to become fearful of failure, those
with low self-esteem practised less. This difference may reflect a desire to maximise the
self-presentation of high ability by appearing to succeed despite minimal preparatory effort.
Another stage, which can follow low self-esteem, is that of self-awareness. People are not
usually self-focused, but certain situations predictably force us to turn inward and become
the objects of our own attention. Actions such as looking in the mirror, standing before an
audience, watching ourselves on video camera or even talking about ourselves can put
us in a state of heightened self-awareness that...
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