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Implicit self-presentational goals and nonverbal behavior

Sara Pollak Levine, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The current set of studies attempted to examine how particular interpersonal goals affected the displays of nonverbal behaviors during job interviews for men and women particularly high and low in self-monitoring needs, and how these nonverbal behaviors affected subsequent applicant ratings and hiring decisions. In Study 1, participants were assigned the role of interviewee for a mock job interview and interviewed for a position which emphasized either competence, ingratiation, or an unspecified self-presentational goal. Participants' interviews were coded for the performance of a number of nonverbal behaviors. While we predicted main effects of self-presentational goal on interviewees' nonverbal behaviors and levels of emotion, as well as interactions between self-presentational goal and gender and between self-presentational goal and self-monitoring, the majority of the effects found related to the interviewees' level of self monitoring; high self-monitors were perceived by judges as less anxious, by interviewers as more competent and hirable, and by both judges and interviewers as happier than low self-monitors. Based on the results of Study 1, prototypes of nonverbal behaviors were constructed. Male and female confederates were trained to produce the levels and combinations of nonverbal behaviors exhibited by those individuals rated the most and least likable in Study 1 while giving a scripted interview. These interviews were videotaped and shown to male and female participants who rated the interviews on a number of measures. Participants' ratings of interview performance, happiness, and anxiety were all significantly affected by nonverbal prototype, and ratings of likability were marginally affected by prototype. Interviewee gender significantly influenced ratings of competence and likability, and had a marginal effect on ratings of interview performance. Finally, nonverbal prototype and interviewee gender interacted to produce significant effects for interview performance, likability, competence, happiness, and anxiety. This interaction suggests that performance of the same sets of nonverbal behaviors by male and female interviewees are received and evaluated quite differently.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Occupational psychology|Personality|Management|Communication

Recommended Citation

Levine, Sara Pollak, "Implicit self-presentational goals and nonverbal behavior" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909182.