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A qualitative study on facebook literature survey media essay

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Nowadays, using social media, the process that people use in order to impress others, has changed. Easier, as it is, to share thoughts, personal details and pictures, the question is: ” Is Facebook used just as a convenient method to be social or as a tool used towards impression management?” Also, what sort of satisfaction do users receive by assembling an ideal image on Facebook? The aim of this research is to look into the needs, for someone to choose a social network to present an enhanced image, and the conflict with the real self. What is the correlation between the addiction to Facebook and the level of image distortion? Is the distorted image a deterrent to real socializing? Within this project there are a few areas that need to be investigated before the true scope of the task at hand can be fully recognised. The result of this research should describe what an impression management is in general, and analyse some of its theories, as well as comparing it with online behaviour. Some theories, such as the feel of a micro-celebrity or the need to belong theory that were previously proposed are briefly described.

What is Impression Management


Impression management (an idea associated with the American sociologist Erving Goffman) [Goffman, E. , 1959], is the way people influence how others think about something, usually themselves. People manage the impressions others have of them by choosing what to conceal and what to reveal when they meet other people. People usually do this either to get something they want from others or to establish an independent identity. People have an on-going interest in how others observe and gauge them so they regularly monitor their impression on others. Often, they do this without any attempt to create a particular impression, but simply to guarantee that their public persona is undamaged. Under certain conditions, however, people become motivated to control how others see them. [Leary & Kowalski, 1990]According to Newman (2010), impression management is an ” act presenting a favourable public image of one-self so that others will form positive judgments” [Newman David M., 2010]. It is a fundamental process that involves a number of influential factors. These factors are: SocialCulturalSpiritualWhen a person tries to manage what other people think of him, it’s also called self-presentation.

A ‘ Dramaturgical Approach’ of impression management

A ‘ dramaturgical approach’ as defined by Goffman, compares stage acting to everyday self-presentation, where the ‘ performer’ acts a role for an ‘ audience’ in front of a ‘ stage’Schlenker (1986) has provided a potentially useful approach to settling the self-as-audience and others-as-audience approaches. Self-identification refers to the ” process, means, or result of showing oneself to be a particular type of person, thereby specifying one’s identity” [Schlenker, B. R. , 1986]. Some writers on social interaction often use notions from the theatre in analysing social interaction. Goffman (1959) writes, social life is seen as though played out by actors on a stage – or on many stages (since how we act depends on the roles we are playing at a particular time).… it is in these roles that we know each other; it is in these roles that we know ourselves[Goffman, E. , 1959]Goffman (1959) compares life as being very much like acting since the ‘ performer’ can take any role he likes to.

Impression Management motivations

Since people are really sensitive to how they are seen by others, they use many forms of impression management to ensure that others react to them in ways that they’d like them to. Impression management involves two discrete processes, impression motivation and impression construction [Leary & Kowalski, 1990]. The process of impression motivation is related with the need to create specific impressions in others’ minds. It is affected by three primary factors: the goal-relevance of impressionsthe value of the desired outcomesthe existing discrepancy between the individual’s current image and the image he or she desires to convey[Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995]suggested that people are motivated to be seen asphysically attractivelikeablecompetentcapablevirtuous

Impression Management construction

After explaining the motives, one might have to manage the impression he does on people, we must examine the ways people use in order to construct their image. The process of impression construction is affected by five factors: the person’s self-concept, his or her desired (and undesired) identities, the constraints of the role in which the individual finds himself or herself, the target’s values, the person’s perceptions of how he or she is regarded currently. Impression construction involves both the process of determining the kind of impression one will try to make and choosing how one will go about making that impression.[Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995] describes a number of self-presentational tactics for impression management, some are briefly clarified below: Self-description is how people present their self, using words. These words may tell details about one’s likes or dislikes, religious or political views, occupation, or life accomplishments. [Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995] Since self-description is a primary source of self-presentation, one will have to monitor it more carefully, than other tactics. People when self-describing are selecting which information of themselves to present, which provides an opportunity to select the information that gives the most desired impression to the others. According to Leary, people prefer more indirect self-descriptions than direct ones, for example one would say:” After my phone was broken, I fixed it all alone by unscrewing the … – I learned these stuff from my engineering degree at University” Rather than:” I studied at University of … – I have an engineering degree”. By relying on a general conversation rather than giving a direct statement, the listener will inquire to have a conversation in order to learn more about his degree. Attitude statements say something about one’s values and also present what kind of person he is. ” The attitudes we express influence the impressions other people have of us” [Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995] One who gets offended every time someone refers to the big bang theory or the creation of the universe with physics proofs, is apparently passionately religious. Attitude statements don’t have to be over the limits in order to be noticed, they can be seen in topics being talked every day. For example, a person who sees an article that violates some standards and expresses his dislike, gives to his listeners a reassurance of his morals. Non-verbal behaviour is the impression we give to others by using no words at all. This can happen by expression of emotions and physical appearance. Emotion expression is a way of communication with others, since we can influence others’ impression of us. For example, being angry, will most probably have a negative influence on the listener, whereas smiling and being positive can be regarded as a good impression.”…far from being spontaneous expressions of inner feelings, emotional expressions can server as self-presentations” [Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995]Physical attractiveness has a strong effect on others’ impressions of us, as suggested by [Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995] people who are physically attractive are perceived as more ” sociable, dominant, intelligent, socially skilled, and adjusted”. Since being attractive is considered positive for most of people, physical appearance is significant for impression management of the self.

Self-presentation online

Just as in the case of face-to-face communication, people communicating online are also trying to attain information about each other, in order to be able to know in advance what to expect and what kind of response to give.[Siibak, 2009] Viewers quickly form strong impressions based on information provided by the owner (e. g. music tastes/interests, [Liu, 2007]) or more indirect cues (e. g. likes/comments left by friends, [Walther et al, 2008])Whenever others are present, people tend to highlight these parts of their self that relate to ideals of the group the person belongs to, or wishes to belong to. We are constantly monitoring ourselves in order to earn the approval of others, as well as giving a positive impression. [Turnley & Bolino, 2001]The idea of impressing ” everyone out there” is the fundamental problem of networking sites. They are designed so that everyone sees the same image of a member. For online impression management to be effective, the sites should be designed in order to allow people to reveal different aspects of their identity to different audiences. For example you should show a different face to your parents, boss and friends. [Rosenbloom, 2008]Using [Goffman, E. , 1959] we can understand the updates made online as a ” performance,” which gives to the audience (i. e. friends) an impression to form online of the person. Facebook community is surely aware of the ” impression management game” which takes place on social networking sites and how projected impressions can sometime rebound. Users are trying too hard to project a flattering and ” cool” image of themselves through their updates. There are of course some cases when people’s ” performances give off a different impression from what was intended, possibly a negative one, this self-presentation predicaments are explained later on. Social networking sites make it extremely easy to share in public one’s likes, dislikes, dreams, etc. Sometimes people, however, misrepresent themselves since they attempt to express a persona of their idealized self or a possible future version of them, for example someone that is thinner or goes out every day. The virtual space of the Internet has given people extraordinary freedom for experimenting with these different self-domains [Higgins, 1987]. People (especially younger) are profound on ” testing” these various aspects of their identity on the Internet [Vybiral, Šmahel & Divinova, 2004]. Therefore, it is sometimes claimed that online sites have turned into ” identity workshops”[Bruckman, 1992] where people can construct their different self-domains. Since people are interested in controlling the impressions they convey to the others, they consciously or unconsciously calculate their actions and behavioursPeople learn a lot about self-presentation from social feedback and from their peers. For example, a user who sees that his friends’ picture of a night out, has 100 likes and some other’s picture of drinking alcohol has a similar amount of likes, might suddenly start wanting that kind of satisfaction, since he sees the other people as ” popular” and feels that having that kind of picture will make him fit in and look popular as well. Even though he might not consciously consider the reasoning behind his decision, he could be using a combination of managing appearances and ingratiation (where individuals use flattery or favour-doing in an attempt to be seen as likeable)

Self-domains and self-esteem

According to [Higgins, 1987] there are three types of self-domains a person has, which are briefly explained below. Some behaviours made online, can be interpreted using Higgins theory. Moreover self-esteem plays a major role on impression management, since it’s because of its boosting that lots of people work on their self-presentation.

Self-presentation and self esteem

Schlenker (1986) suggested that ” self-presentation involves not only people’s attempts to manage the impressions others form, but also efforts to control their impressions of themselves as well”. This is conversed as the ” self-presentation to the self” [Schlenker, B. R. , 1986]. Self-presentation allows people to maximize their reward-cost ratio as they deal with others [Schlenker, B. R. , 1986]. Carrying the right impression increases the possibility that one will gain desired outcomes and avoid undesired ones. Some such outcomes are relational naturally, such as approval, friendship, assistance, power, self-esteem regulation, etc. Self-esteem boosting is a major motive for impression management. People behave in ways that they maintain their self-esteem, not because of a need to preserve self-esteem but because such behaviours decrease the likelihood that they will be ignored, avoided, or rejected (which are working against their motives). [Leary & Kowalski, 1990]. Others’ reactions to the individual may increase or decrease their self-esteem. Compliments and indications of liking in general enhance self-esteem, whereas criticism and rejection deflate it. As a result, people often try to make impressions that will cause their esteem to increase, particularly when they expect feedback from others. [Schneider , 1969]Self-esteem is furthermore affected by people’s self-evaluations of their performances and others’ imagined reactions to them. People may perceive they have made a good or bad impression and experience resulting changes in self-esteem in the absence of direct from others [Gruzen, Reis, 1976]People often engage in activities in order ” to convey an impression to others which it is in their interests to convey” [Goffman, E. , 1959]

The three types of self-domains

According to [Higgins, 1987] we have three types of self-domains. People generally use impression management in one of three ways when trying to influence how others perceive them: the actual self (authentically)the ideal self(ideally)the ought self(tactically)The actual self is the one’s illustration of the attributes that are believed to be possessed by the individual. The ideal self is the one’s illustration of the person he would like to be/possess, the way that he wishes he was. The ought self, refers to the attributes that someone believes he should possess. [Higgins, 1987]. People tend to use different personae depending on the situation. For instance, a person might use the authentic self on a coffee date, the ideal self in an interview, and the tactical self at work.

The micro-celebrity

” Micro-celebrity” is the term coined by Healy, 2007 to denote social networking website users who are well known amongst their network. [Healy, 2007] Comparing to the actual celebrity, a social network micro-celebrity has the spotlight and similar attention, if the user is well-connected and ” famous” on Facebook. A micro-celebrity is a creation of its own construction, and shares several celebrity-like experiences. [Healy, 2007] Unlike actual celebrities, micro-celebrities have the time to communicate with all their ” fans” and therefore form more intimate relationships with those on their network. Celebrities are marked by the number of fans they have, whereas micro-celebrities build their network by being associated with the ” right” people. Facebook users, similarly to celebrities, become recognized for a distinct situation. For example a person who makes music covers for popular songs, and posts them online, a person who keeps posting several pictures of their car, etc. What is common between celebrities and micro-celebrities is their sense of willingness to express themselves publicly, they both share the desire to spread their influence by the refinement of fans, and Facebook friends. Each user on Facebook, acts as his/her own PR director. As with the celebrity world, it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know, similarly Facebook users have to carefully accept friend requests. For, example if a user adds the right people it can increase his/her ” social prestige”, however if he/she adds an individual who is rather offensive or obnoxious would lower his/her prestige. Micro-celebrities on Facebook are able to exert influence no matter what size their network is. Individuals, go online to feel part of a community, to achieve emotional or social support. “…members share their comments and suggestions online…and experience a sense of belonging and intimacy through their interactions online[Wang, Chang, 2010].

Modesty in impression management

There exists a dilemma that affects how people self-present, what is too much that works against our favour and what is too little that doesn’t work at all. There has to be modesty for self-presentation. The fear of appearing too pretentious may lead people to be so modest that the self-presentation becomes unsuccessful. For example, a person won a price at a singing contest. Although this will create a positive impression on most of people, since the person doesn’t want to brag about his victory, he will just write on Facebook that he attended a singing contest. His Facebook friends will not give that much of attention, since he only says he attended a contest, whereas he is actually the best of the competition. So, here we see modesty in an unsuccessful example, since the purpose of the statement was not what was intended. A modest self-presentation is understood differently by those who have different information, so it’s difficult to find a balance between modesty, truthfulness and deception.

Self-Presentational predicaments

Pride and shame are the emotional impulses that regulate the need for impression management. How we self-present is affected by out avoidance of embarrassment. Self-presentational predicaments are “[e]vents that clearly damage a person’s image in others’ eyes”[Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995] , and they subvert the impression the person was trying to convey. According to Leary, there are two forms of predicaments, normative public deficiencies and stigmas. Some of the stigmas, described by Leary, belong into the categories of past-behaviour (i. e. ex-convict), personal character (i. e. moodiness) and physical characteristics (i. e. disabilities). [Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995] Stigmas lead to negative evaluations and a change of behaviour by others towards the stigmatised individual. Normative public deficiencies are caused by the individual’s own actions, which in turn may lead to embarrassment. Examples of this may include, tripping in front of a large class, forgetting your speech in front of an audience, or even forgetting someone’s name. Awkward interactions with people can also be considered as predicaments. For example when two people can’t find something to talk about, although they both regard themselves as socially skilled. According to Leary, if we ” do not know how to respond, may become embarrassed”, this is under the section of ” team embarrassment” on [Leary, Schreindorfer, Haupt , 1995].

The need to belong theory

The need to belong is a theory which suggests that humans experience a need to form interpersonal relationships and group memberships. [Baumeister, Leary, 1995]The need to belong in a group shapes emotion, cognition, and behaviour. . [Baumeister, Leary, 1995]Through Leary’s and Baumeister’s theory, a research was experimented to see how well people do by themselves. [Schachter, Singer, 1962] made an experiment to see how well people do by themselves. Five male volunteers were separated to live in separate rooms for an extended amount of time. While performing the process of this experiment, one by one could not take it any longer, starting to leave. Three out of five men lasted up to two days. The maximum time loneliness was bared was 8 days, while he reported feeling very anxious. The outcome of this experiment was that researchers suggested that inmates in solitary confinement experience more psychological symptoms, mood and anxiety problems.[Schachter, Singer, 1962]A need to belong, that is, a need to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of interpesonal relationsips, is found to some degree in all humans in all cultures. People need to percieve an interpesronal relationship which is sometimes marked by stability, affective concern, and continuation into the futue. An interaction with a person in an ongoing relationship is subjectively different and often more rewarding than any interaction with a stranger, since the person needs to satisfy his need to belong. In order to satisfy the need to belong, the person must believe that the other person cares about him, likes or loves him.

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