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What Is Self-Monitoring? Meaning, Examples & Checklist [Guide]

What Is Self-Monitoring & How Self-Monitoring Helps in Change Behavior

Self-monitoring is the characteristic that enables individuals to be mindful of how they present themselves to others. It involves having self-control over your appearance, emotions, and responses to various stimuli. As you embark on developing your self-monitoring skills, consider taking the HIGH5 strengths assessment. This assessment can provide valuable insights into your natural strengths and tendencies related to self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and self-regulation – all essential components of effective self-monitoring. By understanding and leveraging your unique strengths in these areas, you can cultivate a more authentic and impactful self-monitoring practice that aligns with your values and goals.

While self-awareness is a vital aspect of self-monitoring, it is only one element of this phenomenon.

The delicate balance between excessive self-monitoring and a lack of proper monitoring can also be challenging to understand.

Nonetheless, there are many benefits to utilizing self-monitoring techniques.

It helps improve self-awareness, develop interpersonal skills, help you change unbeneficial behaviors, understand the impact your behavior has on your life, and understand how you need to behave in certain situations.

This article will discuss the benefits of self-monitoring, understanding how much monitoring is necessary, and the definition of self-monitoring.

What is Self-Monitoring?

Self-monitoring is the characteristic that enables individuals to monitor, or control, how they appear to others. It is the ability to have self-control over your appearance, emotions, and response to a stimulus.

Self-monitoring involves being attuned to not only your behavior but also the impact your decisions have on your environment. It requires individuals to adapt their behaviors to fit in with their surroundings seamlessly. Various social, verbal, and contextual cues are considered when determining if a behavioral shift is necessary. To better understand your natural inclinations towards self-monitoring, consider taking the HIGH5 strengths assessment. This assessment can provide valuable insights into your unique strengths and tendencies related to self-awareness, adaptability, and social intelligence – all crucial elements of effective self-monitoring. By leveraging your strengths in these areas, you can enhance your ability to navigate different situations with poise and authenticity.

Those who use continuous self-monitoring techniques are likely to conform to industry standards and match the behavior of those around them.

As a result, they are less likely to stand out when present in a meeting.

On the other hand, those with weak self-monitoring skills tend to stand out, focus on their internal needs/feelings, and neglect widely accepted standards.

Signs of Self-monitoring

Now that you understand the basic definition of self-monitoring, you may be wondering: how do I know if I am already doing this? There are several critical signs exhibited by those who self-monitor.

The psychologist who developed the idea of self-monitoring, Mark Snyder, also established a self-monitoring scale. It notes how this process influences people in specific settings.

Some people tend to self-monitor regardless of the situation. Generally speaking, self-monitoring behaviors decrease when you are in a comfortable environment.

Conversely, such behaviors typically increase when you are under stress or pressure.

List of 10 Signs of Self-monitoring

Snyder notes that the most common self-monitoring behaviors include:

  1. Saying something to get someone’s approval or to fit in
  2. Acting to entertain others
  3. Subconsciously imitating the behavior of others
  4. When making decisions, look to others to see what to do
  5. Asking others for advice on what to wear, ask, think, or do
  6. If someone disagrees with you, changing your opinion to suit their desires
  7. Changing how you act depending on the environment
  8. Switching your tone of voice to suit the situation
  9. Mimicking other people’s body language
  10. Not trusting your initial instinct when wanting to make a decision or comment

Types of Self-monitoring

Some different behaviors fall into the wide category of self-monitoring activity.

Self-monitoring can also be divided into two distinct subcategories: acquisitive and protective self-monitoring. Their differences are listed below.


When you entertain others or ask them for advice on most decisions, you exhibit acquisitive behavior. In general, this type of behavior involves attention and approval seeking.

People may consider the environment before acting. This includes seeing which people will be present, where the location is, what they will be talking about, and so on.

Their goal is to fit in with the group typically and not stand out as unusual. Other potential motives for changing behavior include gaining strength, status, or attention from others.

This type of self-monitoring focuses on acquiring something rather than protecting yourself from embarrassment.


On the other hand, protective self-monitoring behavior is done to protect individuals from disapproval or being socially unaccounted for.

The process which behavior occurs is somewhat similar to the acquisitive type.

Individuals start by monitoring others’ behaviors and then replicate them or change their behavior to seem more acceptable by the group. This can sometimes be done subconsciously.

The motive of behavior is starkly contrasting with the prior type. Here, the individual does not focus on getting anything other than protection from rejection.

Pro Tip From HIGH5

Leverage your strengths, as identified by HIGH5, to understand and optimize your self-monitoring style. If you tend towards acquisitive self-monitoring, capitalize on strengths like influencing, maximizing, or achieving to channel your behavior positively. If protective self-monitoring is more natural for you, lean into strengths like empathy, restorative, or developing to build authentic connections while staying true to yourself.

Using Self-Monitoring to Change Behavior

Self-monitoring can be a natural or acquired behavior that benefits the individual. If you wish to try self-monitoring, here are a few behaviors you can try following things.

Identify a target behavior

Self-monitoring behavior begins with identifying the behavior you want to replicate. Will it be social, emotional, tone, body language, or verbal behavior?

To find this behavior, consider where you will be interacting/meeting. Target behavior for a club, coffee shop, and C-Level meeting are all going to be completely different.

Then, imagine who will be there with you and what you will talk about. Being more energetic in your behavior is appropriate if you are going into a meeting about the company’s success.

When you are in the meeting, monitor how other respected individuals behave. These behaviors could help you identify a target, too.

Choose a way to record behaviors

Most people who naturally self-monitor keep track of behavior in their minds. However, mentally noting may not be the most efficient way of staying organized and implementing the behavior.

Writing things down can help you keep track of the behaviors you notice. You can do this on either a piece of paper or an app.

Record how often you perform the behavior, for how long, and other action characteristics.

Consider doing the same for someone else in the room, too, so you can compare your behaviors if you know you have a weakness.

Set a schedule

When self-monitoring becomes more natural to you, you can do it continuously—until then, setting schedules for when you will self-monitor could be beneficial.

Select a period of time where you will focus on your behavior and write this down. When that time comes, use the same sheet of paper or document to record your behavior for that time period.

This way, you can track how your behavior changes from day to day and in the long term. You can choose to record after a specific occasion or at any time in the day.

Pro Tip From HIGH5

As you work on identifying target behaviors to change, consider taking the HIGH5 strengths assessment. Understanding your top strengths can provide valuable insights into the behaviors and tendencies that come naturally to you. From there, you can strategically leverage your strengths to support the desired behavior changes more effectively.

Impact of Self-Monitoring & Their Benefits

Self-monitoring offers numerous benefits to those who practice it. First, it helps you stay in touch with yourself and become more self-aware.

There are far more benefits than just that, though. Below are a few additional benefits that come from self-monitoring.

List of 10 Self-Monitoring Benefits

  1. Changing unwanted (negative, unproductive) behaviors
  2. Becoming more self-aware
  3. Becoming more aware of others’ behaviors and societal standards
  4. Furthering your interpersonal skills
  5. Understanding how your behavior impacts others
  6. Acknowledging how to behave in specific settings
  7. Finding symptoms that may need immediate attention
  8. Better ability to plan for meeting behaviors ahead of time
  9. Preventing embarrassment or uncomfortable situations
  10. A better understanding of your target behaviors

List of 10 Self-monitoring Examples

Now that you understand what self-monitoring is, you may be wondering: what does self-monitoring look like in reality?

Below is a list of self-monitoring scenarios that are relatively common:

  1. When unsure of what to do with one’s hands, the individual looks to a trusted friend and mimics their position.
  2. Although the individual was initially planning to vote against the strategy plan, he sees that virtually everyone else votes for it. Thus, he changes his mind and votes for it as well.
  3. Knowing that everyone around him is a fan of a particular brand, the man says he is to garner approval and fit in.
  4. Using specific catchphrases or other forms of entertaining others for the sake of their attention.
  5. Knowing that taking a particular political stance would please his boss, the man states his views in an inaccurate way to gain power and influence.
  6. As soon as her colleagues start to get energized at the meeting, the woman imitates a similar energy level. She previously held in her energy to fit in with the rest of the sluggish department.
  7. Unsure of his opinion or experience on the topic, a man asks a more experienced colleague what he should believe about a particular topic.
  8. While the lady is usually upbeat and energized, she is calmer when in a business setting, especially when discussing company losses.
  9. When the woman is extremely stressed about a difficult decision she must make, she looks to a friend to decide for her.
  10. Subconsciously being influenced by others, the man begins to speak in a tone similar to those around him.

High Self-monitors Vs.Low Self-monitoring

Some believe that having weak self-monitoring skills serves to the detriment of the individual. However, there are benefits and drawbacks between both high and low self-monitoring.

Below is a list of behaviors and facts about each type of self-monitoring so you can decide which is most beneficial to you.

High Self-monitors Examples

  1. High self-monitors tend to ask others for advice or assistance when making decisions. They may not trust their initial instinct.
  2. These individuals could change their opinions to find in with the crowd. When their initial opinion is not socially accepted, they change it.
  3. In specific settings, high self-monitors behave differently than in other locations. They change the way they act according to the situation.
  4. High self-monitors have greater self-awareness and are generally more aware of others’ behaviors.
  5. Those with high self-monitoring tendencies are more aware of how their beliefs, actions, and body language influence them.

Low Self-monitoring Examples

  1. Low self-monitors avoid seeking advice from others. They may find it unnecessary. Instead, they typically trust their instincts.
  2. When in a crowd, low self-monitors stick to their beliefs. Even when they see everyone around them making different decisions or thinking differently, they do not change their views.
  3. Regardless of the setting, low self-monitors tend to act in the same or similar ways. This can make them seem more authentic but also inappropriate at times.
  4. Low self-monitors do not pay as much attention to their behavior. Thus, they tend to be less self-aware. They typically also have less awareness of others’ behavior too.
  5. Those with low self-monitoring tendencies are less concerned and less aware of their beliefs on others.

Frequently Asked Questions About Self-monitoring

What are the two kinds of self-monitoring?

Self-monitoring has two subcategories: acquisitive and protective self-monitoring. The main difference between the two types is their motive.

Protective self-monitoring aims at preventing the individual from experiencing rejection or disapproval.

On the other hand, acquisitive self-monitoring helps the individual get something. Usually, this is status, power, approval, or money.

What is the importance of self-monitoring skills?

Self-monitoring does serve several benefits to individuals. Firstly, it helps improve self-awareness. It also makes you more aware of others’ behaviors and how your actions impact others.

Also, you can change specific destructive behaviors with self-monitoring. A boost in interpersonal skills is also correlated with developing self-monitoring skills.

Overall, you will understand your position’s societal standards and expectations and avoid embarrassment or rejection if you use these skills.

What is a self-monitoring checklist?

A self-monitoring checklist is designed to help individuals change their destructive behaviors and maintain proper behavior.

It is a written sheet or virtual checklist where individuals write down their behaviors for specific times. Typically, these times are selected in advance.

The benefit of using such a checklist is greater knowledge of your behavior, both conscious and subconscious.

Then, you can target the behavior you want to change and continue performing the good behavior.

What is the first step in self-monitoring?

The first step to self-monitoring is to choose a behavior you wish to monitor and change. This is known as selecting a target behavior.

You can also choose a behavior you wish to attain, such as the behavior exhibited by a boss. Focus on understanding what type of behavior this will be, and make it specific.

It can be virtually any behavior, including tone raising, body language, social cues, eating habits, mood-related behavior, and so on.

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