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High & Low Self-Monitors: Definition & Behaviors

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
In this lesson, we'll go over the concept of self-monitoring. Then you'll learn the differences between high and low self-monitors and how it plays out in real life.

Self-Monitoring

Answer this question honestly: do you think you'd be a very good actor? Truly a good actor, not just as a ''we'd all like to be rich and famous'' kind of thing. If you answered yes, then you might be a high self-monitor. Self-monitoring is a concept that denotes the way people monitor (observe) and manage (regulate) themselves in a social setting given a variety of visual, vocal and verbal cues.

There are high self-monitors and low self-monitors, and people do fall in between the two poles. But for simplicity's sake we'll say only the two exist. Let's find out more about each in this lesson.

High Self-Monitors

High self-monitors are sort of like chameleons. They are people who more readily modify the way they present themselves in a social setting in response to social cues. High self-monitors worry more about how appropriate their behavior is in a given social setting. Their modification of their outward appearance and behavior can be done to impress others or to better fit into a social environment.

For example, a high self-monitor may be the biggest griever at a funeral even if they don't feel all that sad. They may be the happiest person at a lively party even if they're having a bad day. They can readily change their outward appearance and behavior as they move from one social setting to another. That's because they acutely observe the environmental and social cues around them, to notice what's going on and how best to modify their behavior to appear more appropriate to the situation at hand.

People who are high self-monitors are thus more likely to find themselves in fields like public relations, sales, politics, law, diplomacy and, as the introduction mentioned, acting. All of these fields require an ability to easily portray oneself in a manner that may not be ''who you are'' or how you're feeling at the moment, because of the social environment at hand.

High self-monitors also tend to:

  • Date more, have more sexual partners, and choose partners who are attractive but not very sociable.
  • Respond better to advertisements when they focus on how the product looks. Such a person may buy a really fancy phone even if it works horrendously.
  • Stop doing something because of how they appear. They may stop smoking because they don't like the fact that they have smelly clothes.

Low Self-Monitors

On the flip side are people who are low self-monitors. Instead of worrying about outside factors like the social environment and its cues for ''appropriate'' behavior, low self-monitors regulate themselves with respect to their internal beliefs. They do not like putting on a façade. If they're happy, you'll know. If they're sad, you'll know. And it'll be regardless of the social setting.

Low self-monitors don't really care too much about adjusting their behavior or outward appearance to better mimic the social situation. Instead, they wish to present themselves on the outside as they truly are. They enjoy their personal values and are not afraid to present them to others.

If you are sitting with a group of friends debating something and one of them refuses to believe what all the others are saying, that person may be a low self-monitor. Such individuals more readily hold true to their beliefs, ideas and attitudes even in the face of a ''hostile'' social environment like group peer pressure.

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