People behave differently given different situations. However, when interacting with others, the aspect of self-presentation comes into play. Individuals always think of what their interactive counterparts think of them and the issue of self-presentation, self-conception and self-verification come into perspective.
Self-presentation theory predicts that people will present themselves more favorably in order to present a desired impression. According to self-verification theory, people will present themselves as accurately as possible in order to gain lasting relationships. Schlenker (1975) found that people desire to maximize social approval and present themselves more favorably. On a performance test, subjects reported themselves as better than their actual performance only when their results were anonymous. Meanwhile, Swann, Stein-Seroussi and Giesler’s (1992) self-verification theory demonstrated that people with negative self-views prefer partners that view them unfavorably.
People are motivated to present themselves as accurately except in some situations, such as desiring a relationship, they are motivated to present themselves more favorably in order to be viewed as more desirable. Kraus and Chen (2009) stated that when people interact with significant others with long-term implications, they tend to automatically self-verify and seek information that supports their own self-view. On the other hand, if there is a chance of rejection, Kwang and Swann (2010) found that people tend to self-enhance more frequently because people with positive or negative self-views seemed delighted with positive evaluations from others. Thus, the previous theories presumably predicted the notion that people would feel better about after receiving positive evaluations, as compared to those negative. Kwang and Swann’s (2010) evaluation of self-enhancement theory leads to the assertion that individuals are always inclined to perceive themselves positively as a natural tendency. This means that people will always act in a manner that increases their self-perception in the eyes of public. As such, there exists a natural tendency to take up all the positive attributes and praises as a means of maintaining a serious barrier between the internal positive circumstances and the external negative influences that make them acquire negative attributes (Kwang & Swann, 2010). In addition to this, Kwan and Swan argue that people are clouded by the self enhancement theory to the extent that they overlook the obvious flaws existing within their own attributes and in light of this, people will always present an unrealistic picture of their own, being during an interactive process.
Schlenker (1975) compliments the above theory in his view of the management of self-impression in which he argues that the public image is more important to an individual than the private image. However, the private image defines the public image. Schlenker (1975) points out that the self must be consistent in self-presentation in line with the consistency theory. The consistency theory, as highlighted by Schlenker (1975) looks at individuals’ attempts to reduce the blemishes present in an individual’s private self-image in order to present it in a positive view in the public domain. However, the consistency theory in most cases has been challenged on the basis of the accounting for individuals who experience low self-esteem and are not able to present a public positive image. Such individuals do not expect to receive positive remarks and their performance is even seen to be in doubt. Moreover, as argued by Swann, Stein-Seroussi and Giesler (1992), individuals with such expectations of low self-verification and negative public image are deemed surer of their own traits than the ones with positive expectations. Such individuals seek to improve themselves by receiving negative reactions to their traits or image in order to “identify and remedy problematic behaviors” (Swann, Stein-Seroussi & Giesler, 393).
There is a known tendency for individuals with similar traits. This is a way of seeking self-reassurance by having their peer’s comments either positively or negatively with respect to their behavioral attributes. In this light, individuals strive to receive pointers towards their own view in their self-evaluative context. This leads to the buildup of the long lasting relationships, achieved by individuals realizing their ultimate goals in the social context (Kraus & Chen, 2009). Kraus and Chen (2009) point out that the association of individuals in a relationship is guided by the fact that one has to look for a “self evaluative feedback” (p. 58). Therefore, in a relationship, individuals always seek to receive either positive or negative comments from their peers. The environment also determines a lot when self-presentation, self-enhancement and self-evaluation are involved. The environment determines how generous one shall be with his or her self-attributions. This means that an individual will hold back some information about the self, depending on the people present and the previous evaluations received with respect to their past failures and expected future behaviors as suggested by Schlenker (1975). Relationship is enhanced by the perception that two or more individuals, sharing a common goal, will have prior to engaging in any activity. As perceived by Kwang and Swan (2010), an individual with positive perception of him or herself will associate with his likeminded peers and vice versa. Self-conception, self-enhancement and self-verification are all aimed at realizing the need for acceptance within the community and more so in a relationship.
The current research suggests no gender differences in self-presentation and self-enhancement. When desiring a relationship, we think that people especially choose self-presentation when the risk of rejection is present. If the risk of receiving negative feedback is high, people will present themselves more favorably than accurately. This study can reveal further details about how people interact with one another in different settings and expectations.