Appearing smart: the impression management of intelligence, person perception accuracy, and behavior in social interaction

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2007 Mar;33(3):325-39. doi: 10.1177/0146167206294871.


Intelligence is an important trait that affects everyday social interaction. The present research utilized the ecological perspective of social perception to investigate the impression management of intelligence and strangers' evaluations of targets' intelligence levels. The ability to effectively portray an impression of intelligence to outside judges as well as interaction partners was appraised and the effect of impression management on the accurate judgment of intelligence was assessed. In addition, targets' behavior was studied in relation to impression management, perceived intelligence, and actual measured intelligence. Impression-managing targets appeared more intelligent to video judges but not to their interaction partner as compared to controls. The intelligence quotient (IQ) of impression-managing targets was more accurately judged than controls' IQ. Impression-managing targets displayed distinct nonverbal behavioral patterns that differed from controls. Looking while speaking was a key behavior: It significantly correlated with IQ, was successfully manipulated by impression-managing targets, and contributed to higher perceived intelligence ratings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Personnel Selection
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Perception*
  • Videotape Recording