According to some sociologists, as we go about our lives, we try to control or manage the impression that we make on others in social situations. When we do this, we are practicing what sociologists call impression management. Even in everyday, ordinary interactions, we make special preparations - sometimes unconsciously - to convey certain Information about ourselves that influences how others perceive us. These preparations often involve our personal appearance - how we look during the social interaction - as well as the social setting, which is the place where the social interaction occurs.
Now listen to part of a lecture in a sociology class on this topic.
Professor: Have you noticed how…when a student gives a class presentation, it might dress just a little more formally than usual? Eh…for example, if you usually wear jeans and a T-shirt to class, you might wear nicer pants, a nicer shirt or sweater because you know, you are dressing up, you want people to know, even before you begin speaking, that you take this presentation seriously, that you’ve come prepared, that you are a responsible student, that you’ve got a good presentation for us. You get the idea. Or, Uh, here is another example. There was this one time when I knew I was going to be giving…the president of the University a ride. It was to a meeting across town. Anyway, the day before I was supposed to give him a ride, I wasn’t even aware of doing this. But the day before I was supposed to give him a ride, I took the trash out of the back seat and even had the car washed. I suppose I was thinking back on my mind that you know, if my car was neat and tidy, the president would think that I was responsible and respectful. And then to top it up, when the president got in the car, I changed the radio to a classical station. Now I don’t even like classical music, I guess I must be thinking that the classic music would seem more sophisticated.
Explain the concept of impression management, using the examples provided by the professor.
In the reading, the article talks about impression management, which means the way we manage or control our impressions that we make on others. In the listening, the professor gives out two examples to illustrate this title. First, when a student is going to give a presentation to the whole class, he may dress up a little bit more formally than usual. In this way, he could make others aware that he takes this presentation very seriously, that he’s come prepared and that he wants to present to them a high-quality presentation. Another example is that once when the professor gave the president of the university a ride to a meeting across town, he had taken the trash out of his back seat and even had his car washed the day before he gave the president a ride. When the president got into his car, he turned the radio to the classical music station which seemed more sophisticated. The reason why he did all these things was that he wanted to make a good impression on the president. Therefore, by giving out these two examples, the professor explains what is meant by impression management.