Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Adam M. Grant
Nancy P. Rothbard
As organizations continue to adopt cultural scripts of authenticity, bringing one’s “whole self” to professional life is becoming an expectation, not a rebellion. Moreover, cultivating an authentic impression – one that feels real, genuine, and true to oneself – is increasingly valued in professional interactions. Yet how to effectively signal one’s authenticity in the workplace can be fraught with challenges, especially in light of extensive research that demonstrates the value of filtering behavior to enhance one’s image in organizational contexts. Taken together, research on identity, impression management, and emotional labor suggests that individuals across a range of professional interactions now face a paradox of self-presentation – to seem authentic, but also polished – in order to succeed in their work. In this dissertation, I explore the perks and perils of cultivating authentic impressions in brief professional interactions; how individuals (attempt to) signal their authenticity in these ephemeral settings; and how these processes and associated outcomes may differ for men and women. In Chapter 2, I explore how organizational expectations to be one’s authentic self can be challenging and potentially detrimental to performance, due to this paradox of self-presentation. Gender differences were apparent in how organizational expectations to be authentic were enacted in mock job interviews: men engaged in more “raw” or unregulated authenticity, while women engaged in “bounded” or regulated authenticity, which led to a decrease in men’s but not women’s expert-rated performance. In Chapter 3, I examine how authentic first impressions predict relationship development over time. In a longitudinal sample of attendees of networking events, I find that both felt (self) and perceived (other) authenticity during interactions at the event were predictive of relational outcomes, but these effects are more pronounced for (and in some cases, limited to) female attendees. These results highlight the complexity of cultivating authentic impressions in professional interactions, and suggest that women may value and enact authenticity more effectively than men in professional settings.
Pillemer, Julianna, "The Complexity Of Being Me: Understanding The Perks And Perils Of Cultivating Authentic Impressions At Work" (2019). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 3277.