The Impact of Self-Presentations on Self-Beliefs: Effects of Social Identity and Self-Presentational Context


Address correspondence to Barry R. Schlenker, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


ABSTRACT To examine the impact of self-presentations on private self-appraisals, subjects were induced to characterize themselves positively or negatively during a face-to-face interview, during a written interview, or on a private questionnaire. As hypothesized, subjects high in Social Identity (the tendency to root identity in social sources of experience) shifted their self-appraisals in the direction of their positive or negative role after a face-to-face interaction, but were less affected by role in their private self-characterizations. In contrast, subjects low in Social Identity were primarily affected by a private, positive self-characterization. The latter subjects were not indifferent to how they appeared to others, as indicated by their attempts to rationalize negative, face-to-face self-presentations; they simply did not define themselves in terms of their public appearance.