Social Desirability

Social desirability can be conceptualized as an individual’s constant need for social approval and impression management in social interactions. Social desirability has its origin in shared social norms. To conform to social norms, research subjects often present themselves in a positive light and mask their true behaviors or intentions in an empirical study. This entry describes the problem of social desirability and some remedies in the research practice.

In empirical social and educational research, especially in surveys using question-and-answer data collection methodology, it is a challenge to accurately measure private or norm-violating issues (e.g., sexual behavior, income, health-related issues, illicit drug use, delinquency or unsocial opinions such as racism) because respondents may choose to deliberately misreport on such sensitive topics and adjust their answers in accordance ...

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