Some individuals are sensitive to how others perceive them, while others do not care. People who are high self-monitors continually view other individuals and what they do and how they respond to the actions and behavior of others. These people are therefore very self-conscious and want to look good; they will thus normally adapt to different social situations. To the contrary, low self-monitors are typically uncaring to how others see them and therefore follow their own inclinations.
Snyder (1974) identified the personality trait of self-monitoring or the tendency to monitor one's behavior to the given situation. Individuals who are high in self-monitoring are especially responsive to situational and interpersonal cues. Those, on the other hand, who are low in self-monitoring usually reflect their attitudes, dispositions, and values. Snyder, for example, found a relationship between self-monitoring and friendship. In one study, high and low self-monitors could choose between playing tennis with a pro-tennis player who was not well liked or playing with someone who was liked but not good at sports. High self-monitors chose friends who were specialists in tennis, and low self-monitors consistently chose friends who they liked and shared similar attitudes. Snyder concluded that high self-monitors choose friends that maximize the fit between friends and the activity. Low self-monitors maximize the fit between friends and their own personal attributes.
It is not surprising that the woman I interviewed has a high self-esteem and is not concerned about how others view her. She acts in the way that she feels is best for different situations. Further, she would rather be with individuals who are her close friends than those who are experts in a field; she sets high criteria for her friends and knows they will not let her down. When she was growing up, her parents reinforced the view that she should not care about what others think, but should rather be personally satisfied with who she is as an individual. She has to face herself in the mirror every day and be able to live with who she is. Self pride is much more important than the thoughts of others.
Lastly, Synder's self-monitoring goes hand-in-hand with a person being extrinsically or intrinsically motivated. That is, extrinsic motivation is when someone is motivated or encouraged by external factors, as opposed to the internal drivers of intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from outside an individual, such as rewards including high test scores or positive comments from other people. Such rewards give the person satisfaction and pleasure that are not necessarily provided by the task itself. An extrinsically driven individual will work on an assignment even when having little or no interest in it, due to the expected satisfaction gained from the reward. For instance, an extrinsically motivated person who does not like learning English literature may put a lot of effort toward a paper on Shakespeare because those who get high grades are able to attend a special class activity. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to motivation coming from inside a person rather than from these external or outside rewards. The person completes a project because of the pleasure received from the task itself or the sense of satisfaction in completion. There are no universal theories to explain the factors of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and most explanations combine parts of Weiner's (1974) attribution theory, Bandura's (1991) theory on self-efficacy and other research relating to goal orientation.
My interviewee is mostly intrinsically motivated. However, she does want to get good grades and do well in school. In this situation, there is both an intrinsic and extrinsic motivation working together to drive her. She says that other things in life have been similar, where she is internally motivated by her own goals but externally driven by her parents and other people she respects. She appreciates being recognized for going above and beyond the status quo.
Bandura, a. (1991). Self-efficacy mechanism in physiological activation and health-promoting behavior. In J. Madden, IV (Ed.), Neurobiology of learning, emotion and affect (pp. 229- 270). New York: Raven.
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Gardner, H. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic,1983
Snyder, M. (1974). Self-monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(4), 526-537.