Well, self-praise, they say, is no recommendation, though to be sure I’m no believer in that old proverb, for, after all, who knows a man better than himself ?(Joseph Smith Fletcher, a journalist and author)
Although the focus of this book is on self-presentation and self-praise in the context of internal corporate communication, this chapter addresses the academic environment (tertiary education and research), as well as the self-promotional activities by businesspeople (and to a limited extent also researchers) on the professional networking and recruitment platform LinkedIn.
One of the reasons to include the educational context was a pilot study conducted in a university setting in order to determine whether students were in a position to embrace visibility and make use of collaborative tools for self-promotion. Moreover, being a representative of the target population of active users of LinkedIn, the abundance of secondary data on this platform also sparked my interest to explore the topic at hand in this particular context.
According to the social comparison theory, individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they measure up against others whom they perceive as faring better or worse (Festinger 1954). As Corcoran et al. (2011) point out, such comparison may serve as a trigger of self-praise since comparisons to others can foster self-improvement, self-motivation, and a positive self-image in the process of constant self-evaluation, which in turn can also promote judgemental, biased, and overly competitive or superior attitudes. Furthermore, pressure towards uniformity of opinion may translate into uniformity of self-presentation. This is then reflected in inflated, inaccurate self-assessment setting self-praise in motion.
Social exchange theory proposes that social behaviour is the result of an exchange process (Cherry 2015), here specifically applicable to the exchange (in the form of shares) of self-elevating posts, profile updates, citations, or congratulatory comments. The purpose of this exchange is to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs for those involved. Homans (1958, 1974) notes that people generally weigh the potential benefits and risks of social relationships. When the risks outweigh the rewards, they will terminate or abandon a given relationship.