Self-monitoring is a personality characteristic that makes an individual pay closer attention to a social situation so that they can change their behaviors to fit that situation.
High self-monitors easily blend into social situations, knowing what to do or say with each person. They appear more friendly and less anxious to observers, and are sensitive to social cues are likely to vary their behavior from situation to situation. High self-monitors read non-verbal behavior better, and will change their behavior to suit the situation as they perceive it. They are more concerned with acting appropriately than being true to themselves.
If an outcome depends on another person, high self-monitors will recall more information about the other person, and make more confident judgments and extreme inferences about the other person.
High self-monitors (HSMs) describe themselves as flexible, adaptive, and shrewd. They tend to use situational factors to explain their behavior. They have many friends, but are not very close with most of them. They have different friends for different activities. Friendship loss is not a difficulty, as there are other friends to take the place of any that are lost. They tend to date around, and have different dates for different places. They are concerned about their date’s appearance.
Low self-monitors (LSMs), on the other hand, act themselves regardless of the situation, so they rarely conform to the norms of the social setting. LSMs are less sensitive to social cues, and less likely to change their behavior from one situation to another.
LSMs prefer to be seen as they really are, and they behave so as to express internal attitudes and dispositions. Their attitudes are more accessible, so LSMs have a greater consistency between their attitudes and their behavior. LSMs are more likely to show effects of fatigue and moods than HSMs.
Low self-monitors describe themselves as consistent and principled, and they use dispositional explanations to explain their behavior. They have few friends, but these friends are quite close to them. They have the same friends for all of their activities. They select friends with similar attitudes. Friendship loss is difficult, because there are so few that each will be missed quite a bit, and the loss will affect, most if not all, activities. They tend to have steady, and more intimate relationships, and they care about their partner’s personality.
Neither high nor low self monitoring is a better way of viewing the world. These are simply different approaches to the world. People tend to prefer friends and romantic partners who are similar to themselves in self-monitoring style. HSMs see LSMs as insensitive, while LSMs see HSMs as superficial