Relative Physical Position as an Impression-Management Strategy: Sex Differences in Its Use and Implications

Anastasia Makhanova*, James K. McNulty, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

People’s physical position relative to others may shape how those others perceive them. The research described here suggests that people use relative physical position to manage impressions by strategically positioning themselves either higher or lower relative to ostensible observers. Five studies supported the prediction that women take and display photographs portraying themselves in a low relative physical position to highlight their youthful features and appear attractive, whereas men take and display photographs portraying themselves in a high relative physical position to highlight their size and appear dominant. The effectiveness of these strategies was confirmed in two studies that measured social perceptions of male and female targets who varied in their relative position. In sum, as do members of other social species, people use relative physical position to manage social impressions, and although these impression-management strategies may have deep ancestral roots, they appear to manifest themselves through a contemporary human modality—photographs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Science
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Keywords

  • attraction
  • dominance
  • nonverbal behavior
  • open data
  • self-presentation
  • selfies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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