When Do People Misrepresent Themselves to Others? The Effects of Social Desirability, Ground Truth, and Accountability on Deceptive Self-Presentations

Academic Article


  • Following Leary's (1995) impression management model, three experiments assessed factors that affect deceptive self-presentations of height and weight. One experiment examined the role of biased cognitive processing. It revealed interactions between biased scanning-focusing on one's own socially desirable characteristics-and participants' sex that affected discrepancies between actual and self-reported height/weight. Another investigated the effect of establishing ground truth prior to self-assessment. It determined that exposure to one's actual measures (ground truth) prior to self-report reduced inaccuracy. The third examined the role of perceived accountability. It found that anticipation of being measured reduced discrepant self-reports. Results suggest that psychological and social processes provide higher-order explanations for distorted self-presentations of the kind that other studies have attributed to specific goals and sociotechnological factors. © 2012 International Communication Association.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Deandrea DC; Tom Tong S; Liang YJ; Levine TR; Walther JB
  • Start Page

  • 400
  • End Page

  • 417
  • Volume

  • 62
  • Issue

  • 3