Impression management is a conscious or subconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event by regulating and controlling information in social interaction. It was first conceptualized by Erving Goffman in 1959 in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, and then was expanded upon in 1967.
Impression management behaviors include accounts (providing "explanations for a negative event to escape disapproval"), excuses (denying "responsibility for negative outcomes"), and opinion conformity ("speak(ing) or behav(ing) in ways consistent with the target"), along with many others. By utilizing such behaviors, those who partake in impression management are able to control others' perception of them or events pertaining to them. Impression management is possible in nearly any situation, such as in sports (wearing flashy clothes or trying to impress fans with their skills), or on social media (only sharing positive posts). Additionally, impression management theory can be utilized with both benevolent and malicious intent.
Another example of impression management theory in play is present in today's world of social media. Users are able to create a profile and share whatever they like with their friends, family, or the world. Users can choose to omit negative life events and highlight positive events if they so please.
Impression management is usually used synonymously with self-presentation, in which a person tries to influence the perception of their image. The notion of impression management was first applied to face-to-face communication, but then was expanded to apply to computer-mediated communication. The concept of impression management is applicable to academic fields of study such as psychology and sociology as well as practical fields such as corporate communication and media.