Impression Management & Self-Presentation in SportMeasurement, Process & Consequences

Authors Organisations

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Joanne Hudson
  • Sally Akehurst
Award date29 Jun 2011
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The aim of this programme of research was to build on existing knowledge of impression management and self-presentation in the sport context. Theoretical advancement was made with the integration of two well-established social psychological frameworks of impression management phenomena; Leary’s (1995) topography of dispositional self-presentational motives, and Leary and Kowalski’s (1990) Two-Component Model of Impression Management – including situational impression motivation and impression construction – are complimentary, and their combination reflects a trait x state approach to understanding interpersonal behaviour in sport contexts. Athletes are assessed by team-mates, coaches, selectors, and the audience at a frequent rate. If they are aware of this, it could be viewed as an opportunity for personal and social development, or a threat to their existent identities. In both cases, the athlete must ensure that their performance is not affected by such thoughts, otherwise they risk conveying a negative impression regardless of their self-presentational motives (Leary, 1992). The present thesis incorporates three novel studies that address a multitude of first and second generation research questions (cf. Zanna & Fazio, 1982). Key findings include, but are not limited to: athletes have a strong dispositional motive to attain intra- and interpersonal goals via their self-presentations; if their impression efficacy does not match their impression motivation they tend to appraise this as a challenge, not a threat, contrary to theoretical expectations; in a laboratory setting, heightened impression motivation is associated with improved performance rather than increased distractibility and performance decrements (as was anticipated); impression management is important in developing desired social identities within university sport subcultures; and impression management is implicated in positive and negative group dynamics. In achieving its aims, the present thesis developed a new measurement scale, devised a successful experimental manipulation of impression motivation, and employed stimulated recall interview methodology; all novel or challenging approaches in sport psychology


  • interpersonal influence, emotion regulation, social anxiety