Audiences' reactions to self-enhancing, self-denigrating, and accurate self-presentations
Subjects in three experiments evaluated hypothetical actors whose claims about either an upcoming or past performance and whose performances were system-atically varied from very positive to very negative. Positive, self-enhancing claims were effective in generating favorable evaluations when either the claim was congruent with the performance or the subjects were unaware of how the actor performed. In general, accurate self-presentations were most favorably evaluated, especially when the claim occurred after the performance. The two exceptions to the preference for accurate self-presenters occurred when (a) the actor modestly underestimated a clearly superior prior performance by claiming to have done "only" well or all right, in which case he/she was evaluated more favorably than an accurate but seemingly boastful actor who claimed to have done extremely well, and (b) the actor self-deprecatingly predicted an inferior performance, in which case he/she was disliked even when accurate. Disclaimers about the importance of the performance (e.t., "I did well, but it's no big deal") were seen as boastful rather than modest and decreased evaluations. The results mirror many of the tactics used by actor-subjects in past experiments, suggesting that people generally vary their self-presentations in optimal fashion to create the most favorable possible impression on the audience. © 1982.
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