When Research Participants Don’T Tell It Like It Is: Pinpointing the Effects of Social Desirability Bias Using Self Vs. Indirect-Questioning

Sabrina M. Neeley, Miami University
Maria L. Cronley, Miami University
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - Social desirability bias reflects the basic human nature to present oneself in a positive manner to others. Typically, this tendency takes the form of over-reporting opinions and behaviors that are congruent with values deemed socially acceptable and under-reporting those deemed socially undesirable. This bias concerns many behavioral researchers because of its threat to construct validity in measurement construction. However, social desirability bias is not just a problem for scale construction, but it can also present problems as a moderating variable or confounding factor when examining behavior. Since so much consumer behavior research examines the influences of others on attitudes and behaviors, as well as social/symbolic presentation, we would expect consumer research to potentially suffer from the compromising effects of social desirability bias. King and Bruner’s (2000) investigation of papers published in top marketing journals from 1980-1997 revealed that only thirteen papers tested social desirability bias as a potential source of error.
[ to cite ]:
Sabrina M. Neeley and Maria L. Cronley (2004) ,"When Research Participants Don’T Tell It Like It Is: Pinpointing the Effects of Social Desirability Bias Using Self Vs. Indirect-Questioning", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31, eds. Barbara E. Kahn and Mary Frances Luce, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 432-433.