Introduction & Theoretical Perspectives


Soc 319: Sociological

Approaches to Social


Self-Presentation and Impression

Management/Interpersonal Attraction

March 12, 2009

II. Specific Impression Management


Specific strategies for reaching impression management goals.


Conformity of opinions

Other enhancement

Selective self-presentation



Less frequently used tactics include:




III. When Interactions Fall Apart

A. Embarrassment

B. Aligning Actions





III. When Interactions Fall Apart

3. Account-making: A statement made by actor to explain unanticipated or untoward behavior (Scott & Lyman,


“Neutralization” techniques of account-making frequently used to account for deviant acts (Sykes &


Example of accountmaking (Kalab 1987): Students’ explanations for missing classes a.




Excuses: Actor recognizes wrong, deflects responsibility. **

Justifications: Actor takes responsibility, denies wrong.

Concessions: Admit failure and apologize.

Refusals: Deny that act occurred.

IV. Do all people impression manage?

The role of self-monitoring

A. Self-monitoring (Snyder):


High: highly concerned with situational appropriateness of behavior

2. Low: less concern for situational appropriateness of behavior

B. Variants

1. “Getting ahead”

2. “Getting along”

Self-monitoring scale items (Snyder)

My behavior is usually an expression of my true inner feelings, attitudes, and beliefs.

At parties and social gatherings, I do not attempt to do or say things that others will like.

I can only argue for ideas which I already believe.

When I am uncertain how to act in a social situation, I look to the behavior of others for cues.

I sometimes appear to others to be experiencing deeper emotions than I actually am.

In different situations and with different people, I often act like very different persons.

I am not particularly good at making other people like me.

I would not change my opinions (or the way I do things) in order to please someone else or win their favor.

In order to get along and be liked, I tend to be what people expect me to be rather than anything else.

I have trouble changing my behavior to suit different people and different situations.

I may deceive people by being friendly when I really dislike them.

A. Interpersonal Attraction: Who do we choose?

1. “Availables”

 a. Institutional structures

 i. Despite cultural myth of “freedom of choice,” institutional structures guide who we meet, and how we meet them.

 ii. Neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and social networks are bound by social class & race/ethnicity, and - in earlier eras

– religion.

A. Interpersonal Attraction: Who do we choose?

 b. Physical proximity

Exchange theory:

little investment in terms of time, effort, or travel costs.

Easy to interact with those who are near by. The “costs” are low because there is c. Familiarity: Importance of familiarity: Proximity

 familiarity

 liking.

Mere exposure effect

(Zajonc, 1968). Repeatedly viewing a person or object over time leads to liking.



respond with mild discomfort to anything or anyone new. With repeated exposure, the feelings of anxiety decrease and the new object becomes familiar.

B. What characteristics do we seek in a partner?

1. Physical attractiveness a. Buss & colleagues: Universal importance of attractiveness; indicator of “fitness.”

Physical attractivenesseconomic prospects “trade off” when selecting long-term partners. Women have greater vested interest in offspring well-being.

Attractive women can “trade up.” [Economists’ data support this]

Data from 37 countries offer support for hypothesis.

b. Stevens, Owens and Schaefer (1990)

Found men and women “match” on both physical attractiveness and socioeconomic prospects.

Supports “matching” hypothesis.

B. What characteristics do we seek in a partner?

1. Physical attractiveness

 b. Debates over importance of attractiveness

 i. Most people seek “beautiful” partners (recall “halo effect”).

Self-fulfilling prophecy (Snyder)

Ii. Equity guides partner choices.

Expectancy value theories: higher likelihood of success when we strive for others of like “quality.” (Level of


Equity theories: Inequities lead to imbalance and desire to offset such imbalances.

Normative influences discourage “mismatches”


Couples who match in attractiveness

Abhishek Bacchanal and

Aishwarya Rai

Elizabeth Moss and Fred


Couples who don’t match in attractiveness (support for Buss??)

Donald Trump and Melania Knauss

B. What characteristics do we seek in a partner?

2. Similarity

 a. Matching hypothesis

 i. Equity theory

 ii. Expectancy value theories iii. Consistency theories

“Matching” or Homogamy Hypothesis:

Shifting Criteria Over Time


: Was important influence; has waned since mid-20 th century;


: Important influence throughout 20 th century, though drastic reduction in importance. Specific racegender patterns persist.

Social class

: Key stratifier today, reflecting institutional structures, timing of partner selection

(Mare; Kalmijn). Powerful implications for social stratification and transmission of class.

Importance of

third-party influences

homogamy has waned throughout 20 th endorsing century

(Kalmijn), esp. among higher-order partnerings.

Trends in U.S. Interracial Marriage

U.S. Interracial Couples in Millions and as Percent of all

Married Couples, 1970-2000












1970 1980 1990 2000

Number (millions)

Percent of all married couples

B. What characteristics do we seek in a partner?

3. Complementarity or “opposites attract”


Limited empirical support for notion that people seek those with different personality traits that complement their own. Most data support similarity of personality traits among partners.