Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Adam M. Grant


At work, employees benefit significantly from the ability to influence and persuade others. Success depends in part on the substance of the topic, but also largely on the impression that the individual is able to convey in the eyes of other people. Research in self-presentation has long shown that using specific impression management tactics to craft a positive image is fraught with challenges. Among many possibilities, highlighting past accomplishments risks coming across as immodest and unlikable, and direct flattery risks being seen as instrumental and inauthentic. Drawing on theories of person perception, attitude change, and intellectual humility, I hypothesize that communicating a consideration of alternatives and a realistic understanding of challenges, a self-presentation strategy which I label skepticism, can achieve attributions of competence without incurring the penalties commonly associated with self-promotion. Additionally, I hypothesize that the cognitive strategy of skepticism can be enhanced when complemented by an affective strategy of displaying momentary expressions of positive emotion, which I label enthusiasm. Results from three studies demonstrate that both skepticism and enthusiasm can be effective self-presentation strategies, and that they are particularly successful when used together in contexts that involve persuasion and influence. I discuss the implications for theory and research on impression management, social judgment, and leadership in organizations.