Prejudice on the stage: Self-monitoring and the public expression of group attitudes


Correspondence should be addressed to Olivier Klein, Service de Psychologie Sociale CP 122, Universitẽ Libre de Bruxelles, 50 av. F. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium (e-mail:


According to self-monitoring theory (Snyder, 1987), high self-monitors tailor their self-presentation for the sake of desired public appearances, whereas low selfmonitors are relatively unlikely to practice such situationally guided impression management strategies. It was therefore predicted that, when asked to publicly express their attitudes regarding a social group, high self-monitors would modify their expressive behaviour in a direction consistent with the attitudes attributed to their audience. Conversely, low self-monitors would be unaffected by their audience's attitude towards this group. A study was conducted to test this hypothesis: participants, whose level of self-monitoring and prejudice towards homosexuals had been previously measured, were asked toreport their thoughts regarding this group in an open-ended manner. They anticipated discussing these thoughts with an audience perceived as either prejudiced or tolerant, orthey expected that their responses would remain private. In line with predictions, highself-monitors expressed more prejudice when the audience was perceived as prejudiced than tolerant, whereas low self-monitors were not affected by the audience's attitude.