On the Convergence of Public and Private Aspects of Self

Part of the Springer Series in Social Psychology book series (SSSOC)


This chapter deals with some issues concerning the correspondence of the self one presents to others and what one believes to be “true” of the self. That is, we are concerned with the discrepancy between what Baumeister and Tice (Chapter 3, this volume) call the public self and the self-concept. Our interest in these issues stems from a theory of social behavior known as the self-evaluation maintenance (SEM) model. First, we briefly describe the model and its implications for views of the self. Then we review a test of the model that raises the question of whether the predicted (and obtained) changes in the self represent changes in the public self (with the goal of creating a particular impression) or changes in the self-concept (with the goal of private self-evaluation maintenance). A couple of studies designed to address this question suggest that one’s public self and one’s self-concept tend to be similar. In the second half of the chapter we examine some reasons why the self-concept and the public self tend to converge. The convergence may be due to the potential of being found out when presenting a false, favorable public self, information overloads, the self-concept constraining the public self, the public self constraining the self-concept, and third factors constraining both the public self and the self-concept in similar ways.


Cognitive Load Cognitive Dissonance Impression Management Experimental Social Psychology Positive Impression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersen, S. M. (1984). Self-knowledge and social inference: II. The diagnosticity of cognitive-affective and behavioral data. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 294–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersen, S. M., & Ross, L. (1984). Self-knowledge and social inference: I. Perceptions of cognitive-affective and behavioral data. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 280–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Apsler, R. (1975). Effects of embarrassment on behavior toward others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 145–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bargh, J. A. (1982). Attention and automaticity in the processing of self-relevant information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 425–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bargh, J. A., & Thein, R. D. (1985). Individual construct accessibility, person memory, and the recall-judgment link: The case of information overload. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1129–1146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R. F. (1982). A self-presentational view of social phenomena. Psychological Bulletin, 91, 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumeister, R. R, & Jones, E. E. (1978). When self-presentation is constrained by the target’s prior knowledge: Consistency and compensation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 608–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baumeister, R. F., & Tice, D. M. (1984). Role of self-presentation and choice in cognitive dissonance under forced compliance: Necessary or sufficient causes? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bern, D. J., & Allen, A. (1974). On predicting some of the people some of the time: The search for cross-situational consistencies in behavior. Psychological Review, 81, 506–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Byrne, D. (1971). The attraction paradigm. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cialdini, R. B., & Richardson, K. D. (1980). Two indirect tactics of image management: Basking and blasting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 406–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crowne, D. P. & Marlowe, D. (1964). The approval motive: Studies in evaluative dependence. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. DePaulo, R. M., & Rosenthal, R. (1979). Telling lies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1713–1722.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1974). Detecting deception from the body or face. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29, 288–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  16. Greenwald, A. G. (1980). The totalitarian ego: Fabrication and revision of personal history. American Psychologist, 35, 603–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Higgins, E. T., King, G. A., & Mavin, G. H. (1982). Individual construct accessibility and subjective impressions and recall. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43,35–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jellison, J. M., & Gentry, K. A. (1978). Self-presentation interpretation of the seeking of social approval. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 227–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jones, E. E. (1964). Ingratiation. New York: Irvington Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  20. Jones, E. E., & Pittman, T. S. (1982). Toward a general theory of self-presentation. In J. Suls (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on the self (Vol. 1). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Jones, E. E., Rhodewalt, E, Berglas, S., & Skelton, J. (1981). Effects of strategic self-presentation on subsequent self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 407–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Marks, G., & Miller, N. (1983). Thinking one’s abilities are unique and one’s opinions are common. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Anaheim, CA.Google Scholar
  23. Markus, H., & Sentis, K. (1982). The self in social information processing. In J. Suls (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on the self (Vol. I). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  24. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Millar, K., & Tesser, A. (1985). The consequences of violated expectations: Sometimes lying, sometimes guilt, sometimes both. Unpublished paper, University of Georgia.Google Scholar
  26. Owens, W. A. (1976). Background data. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organization psychology. Chicago: Rand-McNally.Google Scholar
  27. Paulhus, D. L. (1982). Indiviual differences, self-presentation, and cognitive dissonance: Their concurrent operation in forced compliance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 1253–1265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Paulhus, D. L. (1984). Two-component model of socially desirable responding. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 598–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ross, L., Greene, D., & House, P. (1977). The “false consensus effect”: An egocentric bias in social perception and attribution processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13, 279–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ross, M., McFarland, C, Conway, M., & Zanna, M. (1984). Reciprocal relation between attitudes and behavior recall: Committing people to newly formed attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 257–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sarbin, T. R., & Allen, V. L. (1968). Role theory. In C. Linzey and E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (Vol. 1). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  32. Saunders, V., Shaffer, G. S., & Owens, W. A. (1984). Additional evidence for the accuracy of biographical information: Long-term retest and observer ratings. Unpublished paper, University of Georgia, Athens.Google Scholar
  33. Scheff, T. J. (1974). The labelling theory of mental illness. American Sociological Review, 39, 444–452.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schlenker, B. R. (1975). Self-presentation: Managing the impression of consistency when reality interferes with self-enhancement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 1030–1037.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schlenker, B. R. (1980). Impression management. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  36. Schlenker, B. R. (1982). Translating actions into attitudes: An identity-analytic approach to the explanation of social conduct. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 15). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  37. Schlenker, B. R. (1985). Identity and self-identification. In B. R. Schlenker (Ed.), The self and social life. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  38. Schroder, H. M., Driver, M. J., & Streufert, S. (1967). Human information processing. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  39. Sherwood, G. G. (1981). Self-serving biases in person perception: A reexamination of projection as a mechanism of defense. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 445–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Snyder, M., Tanke, E. D., & Berscheid, E. (1977). Social perception and interpersonal behavior: On the self-fulfilling nature of social stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 656–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tedeschi, J. T. (1981). Impression management theory and social psychological research. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  42. Tedeschi, J. T., Schlenker, B. R., & Bonoma, T. V. (1971). Cognitive dissonance: Private ratiocination or public spectacle? American Psychologist, 26, 685–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tesser, A. (1976). Thought and reality constraints as determinants of attitude polarization. Journal of Research in Personality, 10, 183–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tesser, A. (1986). Some effects of self-evaluation maintenance on cognition and action. In R. M. Sorrention & E. T. Higgins (Eds.) The handbook of motivation and cognition: Foundations of social behaviors. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  45. Tesser, A., & Barbee, A. (in preparation). Appearing competent: On the public nature of self-evaluation maintenance processes.Google Scholar
  46. Tesser, A., & Campbell, J. (1985). A self-evaluation maintenance model of student motivation. In C. Ames & R. Ames (Eds.), Research on motivation in education: The classroom milieu. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  47. Tesser, A., & Campbell, J. (1982). Self-evaluation maintenance and the perception of friends and strangers. Journal of Personality, 50, 261–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tesser, A., & Campbell, J. (1983). Self-definition and self-evaluation maintenance. In J. Suls & A. G. Greenwald (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on the self (Vol. 2, pp. 1–31). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  49. Tesser, A., Campbell, J., & Smith, M. (1984). Friendship choice and performance: Self-evaluation maintenance in children. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 561–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tesser, A., & Paulhus, D. (1983). The definition of self: Private and public self-evaluation management strategies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 672–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tesser, A., & Smith, J. (1980). Some effects of task relevance and friendship on helping: You don’t always help the one you like. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16, 582–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tetlock, P. E., & Manstead, A. S. (1985). Impression management versus intrapsychic explanations in social psychology: A useful dichotomy? Psychological Review, 92, 59–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185, 1124–1131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ulvedal, K., Millar, M., & Tesser, A. (1984). The effects of perceived situational factors on self-reports of deceptive behavior. Paper presented at the 30th meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
  55. Waid, W. M., & Orne, M. T. (1980). Individual differences in electrodermal lability and the detection of information and deception. Journal of Applied Psychology, 65, 1–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Walster, E., Berscheid, E., & Barclay, A. M. (1967). A determinant of preference among modes of dissonance reduction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 7, 211–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. White, J. D., & Carlston, D. E. (1983). Consequences of schemata for attention, impressions, and recall in complex social interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 538–549.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zuckerman, M. (1979a). Sensation seeking: Beyond the optimal level of arousal Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  59. Zuckerman, M. (1979b). Attribution of success and failure revisited, or: The motivational bias is alive and well in attribution theory. Journal of Personality, 47, 245–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zuckerman, M., DeFrank, R. S., Hall, J. A., Larrance, D., & Rosenthal, R. (1979). Facial and vocal cues of deception and honesty. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 15, 378–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations