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The Art of Appearance: A Study on Impression Management among Academicians of a Selected State University in Sri Lanka

Abstract

Impression management is one of the most important concepts in research, especially in the educational context, as it may provide useful insights to academicians to improve their current state of affairs. This qualitative study on impression management among academicians of a selected university in Sri Lanka was carried out to explore the impression management strategies that are adopted by academicians while trying to identify the motives behind their practice of those strategies. An exploratory study was conducted using the qualitative approach under the interpretivism paradigm. Eight academics from a leading faculty in a state university, which is located in the Colombo district, were selected as the sample using the purposive sampling technique. Semi-structured interviews were adopted to collect the data and the thematic analysis technique was used to analyse those collected data. Results of the study indicate that academicians in the selected context use a variety of impression management strategies. Those include direct strategies of creating a good image through presenting the self as competent, likable, diligent, supplicatory and dangerous. Strategies of apology, reasoning and rejecting were identified as the direct ways of defending a bad image. Indirect impression formation among academicians is done by criticising, passing the fault to others and getting appreciation from others. Not only that, but academicians also use non-verbal cues such as attire, facial expressions and vehicles and other accessories to create impressions. Further, the results illustrate that academicians are motivated to manage impressions to maintain a good image of themselves, to build a relationship, to achieve job-related goals such as job security and career growth and finally to motivate others for success. In conclusion, the study proposed many theoretical and managerial implications as well as considerations for future research in the field of impression management.

Keywords: Academicians, Impression Management, Impression Management Strategies, Impression Management Motives

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