Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 13, issue 3 (1969) pp. 262-268
An experiment was performed to explore the effects of success and failure on self-presentation where another person was either in a position to give the subject an evaluation based on his presentation (feedback) or could not give the subject any information about his self-presentation (no feedback). As predicted the failure subjects were more positive about themselves under the feedback condition than under no feedback (p < .01), presumably in an effort to get approval from the other person, and the success subjects were more modest under the feedback than under the no-feedback condition (p < .10), pre-sumably in an effort to conserve their tentative high self-evaluations by not appearing too immodest. Subsequent analyses showed that some of the failure subjects responded with positive self-presentations to get approval while others seemed to evidence what Cohen has called defensive self-esteem. Some men brag; others seem too modest. People vary in how they describe themselves, and it is of considerable interest to determine why. One approach might assume that self-presentations mirror individuals' self-concepts, but this does not account for the variability of a single person's self-descriptions over a number of occasions. Another possibility is that self-presentations can be used tactically to seek approval, to gain power or status, etc. Goff man's (1959) analysis of impression management and Jones' (1964) work on ingratiation have highlighted the tactical use of self-presentation to gain favorable social outcomes. The research reported here was done to investigate the roles of success and failure as motivating forces for tactical self-presentations. One common model of human behavior suggests that behavior is a joint function of the value of goals and of probabilities that 1 This report is based on a dissertation (Schneider, 1966) submitted to the Stanford University Psychol-ogy Department in partial fulfillment of the requirement for a doctoral degree.
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