Every person has backstage and frontstage. Backstage is what you are, and Frontstage is how you want to present yourself in front of others. The way in which you present yourself and maintain your impression is termed as managing your impression. Irrespective of their personality traits whether it is positive or negative, everyone, want to appear with positive traits in front of others.
Impression management is the art of creating a good impression; it is a very strong desire. We all try to manage how one appears before others. This effort is called impression management. A good impression had several advantages in social life.
Impression Formation and Impression Management:
It is believed that first impressions are very important in determining the outcome. In many situations like an interview, one does not get to change the impression at all. Therefore, a lot of significance is given to creating a good impression. Many types of research have been carried out to analyze the accuracy of first impressions.
S.E Asch (1946) in a classic study got his subjects to write down their impressions of a hypothetical person with the following description:
Person A: Intelligent, Impulsive, Critical, Stubborn and envious.
Person B: Envious, Stubborn, Critical, Impulsive and Intelligent.
These two lists are identical in content, but the order is reversed. In the first list, positive traits are followed by negative ones; while in the second, it is negative followed by the positive ones. The impressions formed by the first person will be positive while that of the second will be negative. Asch called this the effect of primacy.
The first adjective presented sets the tone for the impression in either case. So the first data, available makes us pay less attention to details that follow. This tendency to minimize cognitive work and form impressions is a powerful one in the way we process social information.
We combine information and then come up with a weighted average to form an impression. The weight is placed on the following:
- The source of the information(trustworthy source)
- The information being positive or negative(there is a tendency to give more weight to negative information because it is distinctive.
- The extent to which the description is unusual(the more unusual more the weight)
- We assign greater weight to information received first as compared to later information(Asch effect of primacy).
Impression formation does not take place in a cognition vacuum. Our previous experiences provide a template for our current impression formation. We also tend to focus on person types because it is an easy cognitive process at work. So we categorize people very early and well before we have had the necessary information about them. Hence, we combine information to arrive at our judgement of people. Impression formation occurs long before all the information is available.