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Social Desirability

In: Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods

Encyclopedia
Edited by: Published: 2008
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Social desirability is the tendency of some respondents to report an answer in a way they deem to be more socially acceptable than would be their "true" answer. They do this to project a favorable image of themselves and to avoid receiving negative evaluations. The outcome of the strategy is overreporting of socially desirable behaviors or attitudes and underreporting of socially undesirable behaviors or attitudes. Social desirability is classified as one of the respondent-related sources of error (bias).

Social desirability bias intervenes in the last stage of the response process when the response is communicated to the researcher. In this step, a more or less deliberate editing of the response shifts the answer in the direction the respondent feels is more socially acceptable. Since the beginning ...

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