The Geography of Stigma Management: The Relationship Between Sexual Orientation, City Size, and Self-Monitoring


Impression management refers to the regulation of one’s self-presentation in social interactions. This article examines whether self-monitoring–a ubiquitous social psychological construct that captures the extent to which individuals regulate their self-presentation to match the expectation of others–varies across demographic and social contexts. Building on Erving Goffman’s classic insights on stigma management, we expect that the propensity for self-monitoring will be greater among sexual minorities, especially in areas where the stigma surrounding minority sexual orientations is strong. Our survey of U.S. adults shows that sexual minorities report significantly higher levels of self-monitoring than heterosexuals and that this difference disappears in large cities. These findings speak to sociological research on self-presentation, with implications for the literatures on identity formation, stigma management, and labor markets.

Last updated on 02/05/2016