Self-Consciousness and Strategic Self-Presentation


  • We would like to thank Roy baumeister for his comments on a prior version of this article. Requests for reprints should be sent to Kevin Doherty, Box 126, Department ps psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


ABSTRACT People who are publicly self-conscious have been characterized as being especially concerned about their social identities and oriented toward gaining approval and avoiding disapproval. In two experiments, it was found that “pure publics” (i.e., those high in public and low in private self-consciousness) were the most concerned about matching their deeds and words. These subjects presented themselves to a partner consistently with their publicly known, prior performance on a supposedly valid test of social sensitivity. However, they presented themselves in a uniformly positive manner if the test could be dismissed as invalid and/or if their performance was unknown. In contrast, subjects low in public or high in private self-consciousness did not display these strategic patterns and presented themselves positively in all cases. Pure publics are thus the most likely to engage in patterns of self-presentation that have been shown to maximize approval and minimize disapproval in social interactions.