Self-Monitoring, Ingratiation, and Self-Handicapping: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:06 Impression Management
  • 0:57 Ingratiation
  • 1:54 Self-Handicapping
  • 2:55 Self-Monitoring
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

People often engage in ingratiation, self-handicapping, and self-monitoring in order to influence the way others view them. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at some examples of each of these impression management behaviors.

Impression Management

Think about a time when you were in a situation where you wanted to put your best foot forward, such as a job interview. How did you act? What did you say? Were you completely honest when they asked, 'What is your biggest weakness?'

If you're like most people, you probably changed the way you acted at the job interview and didn't tell the interviewer what your biggest weakness really was. When we work to make others see us in a particular light, it is called impression management. Impression management can happen consciously or subconsciously. There are many types of impression management. Three common ways that we control the way others see us are ingratiation, self-handicapping, and self-monitoring. Let's look at each a little closer.


Ingratiation happens when we try to get others to like us with flattery, praise, and just generally trying to be likable. For example, Jenny works with Terry. For some reason, Terry doesn't seem to like Jenny. He talks to her only as much as he needs to in order to get work done, and he sometimes is short with her. Jenny really wants Terry to like her, so she decides to be extra nice to him. She brings him coffee in the morning and asks about his kids. She also praises his work. In short, Jenny ingratiates herself to Terry.

Since most people like others who admire and are nice to them, ingratiation is a pretty good strategy most of the time. However, it can backfire if someone realizes that you're only being nice to them to win their approval. For example, if Terry realizes that Jenny is being ingratiating, instead of genuinely nice, then he might react with disappointment and scorn.


Self-handicapping occurs when we create obstacles for ourselves so that we have an excuse if we do poorly. For example, Roopa is performing in a big concert at her college next week. She's scared that she will embarrass herself in front of her friends and tells them that she hasn't been feeling well. When she does mess up, she reminds her friends that she has been sick.

There are two types of self-handicapping: behavioral and verbal. In behavioral self-handicapping, people create actual obstacles to success. For example, a student who is nervous about a test might go out and drink the night before, so that when he fails, he can blame it on a hangover.

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