Self-monitoring is the monitoring of behavior in social situations. It refers to individual differences in the ability and motivation to regulate expressive behaviors.  It is the regulation of behavior with respect to social and interpersonal interactions. Thus, self-monitoring is about how individuals respond to others and the extent to which they engage in expressive control.
There are individual differences in self-monitoring. People are either high on self-monitoring or low on self-monitoring. High self-monitors act according to the appropriateness of the situation. They are concerned about how others will perceive them in a specific situation and mold their behavior accordingly. Their behavior also varies with the kind of people that they interact with. Therefore, high self-monitors may be highly responsive to social and interpersonal cues, with respect to the appropriateness of the situation.
In contrast, low self-monitors show a lot lesser concern for situational appropriateness. They do not indulge in behaviors that appear situationally appropriate. Rather than molding and maneuvering their behavior, they show more consistency in their behavior in varying situations and with different types of individuals. Instead of being highly responsive to situational cues, low self-monitors behave according to their inner beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and dispositions.
High and low self-monitoring is also associated with different types of interaction patterns. People who are high on self-monitoring choose their friendships and acquaintanceships based on shared activities. Their bonding with others depends on how well they are suited to the particular activity. They like spending time with only those people who are relevant to the concerned activity.
People who are low on self-monitoring, on the other hand, choose their friendships and acquaintanceships based on emotional bonds. They like to spend time with people whom they like, irrespective of the activity.
Consequently, the social world of high self-monitors differs from that of low self-monitors. The social world of high self-monitors is very compartmentalized, with different individuals (friends, acquaintances) linked with different specific activities. Whereas the social world of low self-monitors is less uncategorized, with individuals not necessarily related to specific activities.
With respect to growth in intimacy and interconnectedness, low self-monitors take more time as compared to high self-monitors. Low self-monitors, generally, prefer to take time in establishing a stronger emotional bond with others. High self-monitors are able to connect well with others with relative ease.
High and low self-monitors also differ in terms of romantic behavior and sexuality. High self-monitors have been found to choose a romantic partner, largely, on the basis of physical appearance. Low self-monitors give more emphasis to inner qualities. High self-monitors, also, are likely to have more romantic and sexual partners as compared low self-monitors.
Further, low self-monitors are likely to be more satisfied in their relationships with others. Research suggests that low self-monitors are concerned with the inner qualities of any relationship, such as shared values, and are lesser focused on the external aspects of relationships. This allows them to be themselves with others, and thus be more satisfied.
High self-monitors, in contrast, are more concerned and preoccupied with the external aspects of individuals and relationships, such as physical appearance or prestige associated with the relationship. This allows them to act as per the expectations of the roles. They tend to derive esteem from others, whereas low self-monitors base their relationships on the basis of authenticity and trust.
Therefore, self-monitoring – individual differences in the regulation of expressive behavior – plays a strong role in determining interpersonal interactions. Individuals, depending on being either high or low on self-monitoring, can differ with respect to how they interact with others and how they develop social and emotional connectedness with others.

Saif Farooqi

A PhD in Psychology (from the University of Delhi). I have been blogging about psychological issues for more than ten years. I am extremely passionate about teaching psychology. I'm a writer, podcaster, and TEDx speaker. I also conduct workshops and awareness programs in schools and colleges. Currently, I'm also working as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India

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