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Role Behavior

While a role is the behavior expected of one in a particular- status, role behavior is the actual behavior of one who plays a role. Actual role behavior may vary from expected behavior for a number of reasons. One may not see the role the same way others see it, one's personality characteristics affect how one feels about the role, and not all persons filling a role are equally committed to it as it may conflict with other roles. All these factors combine in such a way that no two individuals. playa given role in exactly the same way. Not all soldiers are brave,. not all priests are saintly, not all professors are scholarly. There is enough diversity in role behavior to give variety to human life. Yet there is enough uniformity and predictability in role behavior to carry on an orderly social life.

Uniforms, badges, titles, and rituals are aids in' role behavior, They lead others to expect and perceive the behavior called for by the role and encourage the actor to act in accord with role expectations. For example, in an experiment an instructor delivered identical lectures to two class sections, wearing a clerical collar in one and ordinary clothing in the other. He was perceived by students as more "morally committed" when wearing the clerical collar [Coursey, 1973]. Another experiment showed that people are more obedient to a uniformed guard than to a man in a business suit, [Bickman, 1974]. Both the patient and the physician feel more comfortable if the physician conducts an intuitive physical examination while wearing a white coat in a sterile office than if he or she conducts the examination wearing bathing garb at poolside. The appropriate uniforms, badges, titles, equipment, and setting are all aids to role performance. ' While much role behavior is' the unconscious playing of roles to which one has been socialized, some role behavior ill a highly conscious, studied effort to project a desired image of the self. The concept of dramatic role presentation refers to a conscious effort to play a role in a way which will create a desired impression among others. Conduct is regulated not only by role needs but also by what the audience expects. Few of us will ever be movie stars, but everyone is an 'actor with a wide variety of audiences. The children in the home, the neighbors, the office force, other students in a school a these and many others form audiences. As Goff man [1959, 1967, 1981] has noted, we put on a presentation of ourselves, when the audience is present, acting out roles so that we give a calculated picture of the self. The debutante making a grand entrance at ~ party, the officer controlling traffic, the sales executive making a pitch, the parent lecturing a child, the tough guy on the playground, the student assuming a pose of studious attentiveness--everyone at some time and place is an actor seeking to impress 'an audience; When our success at creating a desirable impression is threatened, we may resort to a face-saving device in self protection [Berk, 1977). Persons of both sexes and al1 ages sometimes lay Clayton fictitious sexual adventures in' order to give a more "sophisticated" image of themselves. Business suits creep out of hiding and haircuts shorten when corporate recruiters visit the campus. Even among groups where "naturalness" and lack' of affectation are prized, . the frayed blue denims and bare feet are no less a studied presentation of self than are the Brooks Brothers suits in the executive dining room

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