Self-Presentation and the Looking-Glass Self: Synergistic Frameworks for Influencing Agreeable Personality States
Research suggests that people should be able to intentionally reduce their trait-level antagonism by experiencing more agreeable personality states, but most interventions based in these notions seem rather inefficacious. Prior evidence suggests that people higher in trait-level antagonism might have some social-cognitive barriers that reduce the effectiveness of these interventions. Based in two complementary social-cognitive frameworks (i.e., self-presentation theory; looking-glass self), I theorized that public self-presentation of an agreeable personality-type might circumvent these barriers. To test this theory, participants (N = 378) reported on their levels of trait-level antagonism during a pre-screening session, and then wrote short essays about themselves to intentionally come across as someone with (a) an open personality-type or (b) an agreeable personality-type (self-presentation manipulation). Participants were also misled to believe that their essays would (a) remain private or (b) become available to a clinical graduate student who would diagnose their personality-type (publicity manipulation). Agreeable personality states were captured after the manipulations via self-reported state-level antagonism, agreeableness change goals, and agreeable behavioral intentions. Trait-level antagonism related positively to state-level antagonism and negatively to agreeable behavioral intentions but was unrelated to agreeableness change goals. Additionally, males (relative to females) reported greater trait- and state-level antagonism, lesser agreeableness change goals, and lesser agreeable behavioral intentions. Inconsistent with my theory, no two-way interactive effects of the manipulations nor any three-way self-presentationpublicitytrait-level antagonism effects emerged. Overall, this research suggests that agreeable personality states are difficult to induce via public self-presentation and more work incorporating stronger manipulations is necessary.