There Is a Link Between Impression Management and Mindset
Are there some people you just can’t please?
According to research, it may be all about them.
You may have friends, coworkers, or even family that often seem impossible to please.
Whatever you do, it never seems to be good enough. "It’s not you, it’s me," they explain. According to research, that might be true.
Likability is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Perception of Pessimism
Many people are evaluated both personally and professionally through the revelations they make, both positive and negative.
Concerns about impression management often drive people to selective reveal past behavior and incidents, although many people also place a premium on honesty and integrity, wanting to share what they have learned from past mistakes.
When sharing information, however, some speakers perceive they are being judged unfairly for their honesty, or conversely, failing to receive the positivity they think they deserve for their past actions or behavior.
Yet according to research, likability judgments are not necessarily always based on the information shared. They are often in the mind of the perceiver.
Impressions in the Mind of the Perceiver
Leilani B. Goodmon et al. (2015) in, "Jumping to Negative Impressions" explored the link between pessimism, shared information, and likability.
They found that generally, disclosing negative information will negatively impact impression formation because we pay more attention to it and consider negative behavior to reveal more information about the characteristics of the target.
But do people think differently depending on personal disposition?
Goodmon et al. (ibid.) explored how different people perceive first impressions differently based on their orientation (optimism or pessimism), combined with the valence of information revealed by the target.
They found that contrary to optimists, pessimists were more likely to attribute good events to causes that are temporary, specific, and external, and bad events to causes that are permanent, global, and internal.
They conclude that due to this difference in attribution for both negative and positive events, pessimists might form different impressions of people regardless of whether they are disclosing negative or positive information.
Goodmon et al. (supra) had participants read one of two conversation scripts between an advisor and advisee, where the advisee ether disclosed responsibility for a positive previous academic incident or a negative one.
They found that compared to optimists, pessimists expressed less liking of the advisee overall, regardless of valence of the information.
And comparing likability ratings to optimists, they found that pessimists gave similar likability ratings to advisees who revealed a positive academic incident as the ratings that optimists gave of advisees who revealed negative incidents.
They explain that this means that if you are being evaluated by a pessimist, you may find it harder to make a good first impression, even if you are revealing responsibility for a positive incident.
The takeaway may be that instead of taking perceived negative judgment personally, we can consider whether the sentiment perceived or expressed is accurate and objective, or is being filtered through the disposition of the observer.
The preceding article was originally published in Psychology Today, it is used with the permission of its author.
Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, Ph.D., is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.
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