Real vs ideal self: A study of identity creation and desired images on Facebook | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2001-0818
  • E-ISSN:



Goffman in his book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), treated face-to-face interaction as a subject of sociological study in which he framed out the theatrical performance that applies to face-to-face interactions. He believed that when an individual comes in contact with other people, that individual will attempt to control or guide the impression that others might make of him by changing or fixing his or her setting, appearance and manner. At the same time, the person the individual is interacting with is trying to form and obtain information about the individual. The desired image or the desired self is the image one would like others to have of oneself. As stated by Leary and Kowalski, ‘The presentation of self among people tends to lean towards their desired selves and away from their undesired selves’ (Leary and Kowalski 1990). Since people’s desired selves and undesired selves presumably reflect their own values, they value particular characteristics and so they would desire to be a certain kind of person. Therefore, people usually convey corresponding image, which consists of those characteristics. Most of the impressions people want to form are to be liked by others. With this background, the present study attempts to examine the use of Facebook and its different tools used by participants to create and manage an online identity. The researcher also wants to explore relationship between self- presentation image conveyed on Facebook among individuals that they would tend to project certain behaviours in order to convey their desired image online. In the first phase, a quantitative approach was followed. A survey was conducted with 300 college-going students in Delhi to explore their engagements to manage their impressions by using different Facebook tools like posting photographs, status updates, joining groups and pages and displaying their likes on Facebook. The goal of this research is to ascertain the ways in which the college goers use Facebook tools to present themselves online, and to identify the consequences of these actions. Using qualitative approach, in the second phase, the researcher conducted in-depth interviews with 30 active Facebook users to provide insights into the decisions and analyse their use of Facebook sites to convey the desired image. Also, the relationship between the frequently used patterns on Facebook and types of self-presentation shaped were analysed. The findings establish which tools of Facebook are used to create and manage one’s identity and the consequences of online identity creation in relation to the management of diverse social networks.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): desired image; Facebook; identity; real; self presentation; virtual
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