Self-Presentation Theory is when People Seek to Configure

Self-presentation theory is when people seek to configure how others perceive them. People will make an effort to conduct themselves in a way that is appealing to others. Self-presentation is driven by self-promotion which is the desire to gain higher social status, be economically stable, be admired by others, and be respected by peers. Self-presentation is often intentional, but sometimes it occurs subconsciously, which means that it is involuntary. It is best to express self-presentation in a subtle and effective way, over usage can come off as bumptious. Another reason to express self-presentation in an understated manner is to avoid being considered a sycophant. Extensive flattery might be highly irritating to others because it comes off as disingenuous. All of this falls under the umbrella of self-impression. A closely related concept to self-presentation is self-verification. Self-verification is the desire for people to see us the way we see ourselves. People are more likely to remember and receive the personality assessments they identify with that establish their self-concept. We want people to see all of our traits, even if they are negative. Politicians are known for self-presentation. They rely on their popularity to get them elected into certain positions. In order to gain popularity, they have to be well liked by the masses. Politicians want to be well respected and perceived as successful, intelligent, dignitary and exemplary.

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Politicians have various ways to gain admirers and shape their public perception. They often use social media to convey their policies, they also use social media to share favorable pictures. These pictures often depict them engaging with the masses which make them seem approachable, hospitable, and affectionate. Politicians also use television, radio interviews, public rallies to speak in a way that is appealing to the masses. They often use upward comparison to seem more relatable to the normal working-class citizens. Bernie Sanders for example always speaks about his modest upbringing in an income based apartment in Brooklyn in comparison to other wealthier candidates who might not know the struggle of a modest upbringing. He wants to appear more relatable to working class Americans. Perhaps by seeming relatable, he’ll earn their votes. Politicians also use downward comparison to remind people that they are so much more deserving of a position in comparison to their counterparts.

My example of self-presentation is a portion of the Bernie Sanders’ interview at the Breakfast Club that was published on March 4th 2019. The Breakfast Club is a show hosted by three African American personalities. The majority of the Breakfast Club audience are black. Bernie Sanders knows that in this particular instance he needed to cater to a black audience. In order to control the audience’s perception of him, Bernie Sanders stated, “I believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump. I would ask people to take a look at what I stand for, if you look at my life history, I was not only involved in civil rights, I took on the drug company, I took on wall street. I don’t speak about this very often, but when I was a student in college, I was a member of congress on racial inequality, it was one of the prominent civil rights groups in the sixties, we took on segregated housing owned by the University of Chicago, we held the first sit in demonstration, I got arrested for doing that. In 1963, I was a part of the march on Washington, so I think I have a long history in civil rights activism. If you look at my record in terms of civil rights and other areas you will find that it is a consistently strong one. We’re going to have a very diverse campaign staff and a very diverse cabinet.” This is a perfect example of self-presentation because Bernie Sanders was driven by self-promotion. His entire objective was to become more appealing to potential black voters. He wanted to demonstrate that he has been consistently fighting for their rights. Bernie sanders’ aim is to gain a higher position in society by becoming the President of the United States of America. He spoke about instances that would be appealing to black voters. He wanted them to see that he’s on their side and has always been from the beginning. The entire purpose of this interview was to promote himself and become more likeable to a certain audience.

Works Cited

  1. Breakfast Club. “Bernie Sanders Talks Reparations, Prison Reform And His Black Agenda.”
  2. YouTube, 4 Mar. 2019,
  3. Saul Kassin, Steven Fein, Hazel Rose Markus, Social Psychology / Edition 10
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Self-Presentation Theory Is When People Seek to Configure. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved December 4, 2022 , from

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