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The Causes and Impacts of Social Desirability Bias Essay

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Updated: Jul 2nd, 2019

Psychology researchers frequently encounter data management problems due to social desirability bias. Social desirability bias is the methodical mistake that is caused by the intention of participants in a study to respond to interview questions in a manner they believe protect their social interest.

The main concept in the theory is that the respondent is not meaning to be unhelpful or dishonest, but is troubled to disclose thoughts that the community may criticize them for.

The theory might affect the results of study on how much time the diverse group of part-time postgraduate master students gives to charity (Fisher 1993).

The university researchers should consider that the bias is usually common with personal questions that pertain to highly sensitive life matters. Matters such as race and sexuality behavior are examples of issues that are frequently regarded as sensitive.

The level of sensitivity differs from one individual to another depending on the background of the individual and their culture (Yang 2003). The researchers should therefore determine the aspects that the group considers sensitive.

Moreover, since the members of the group come from diverse backgrounds, they should try find out the opinions of each of them on the subject.

To lessen the impact of the bias in the study, the researchers should apply the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale (Fisher 1993).

The scale incorporates a chain of questions intended to forecast the probability of members of the group responding in a social desirability mode, instead of responding in a truthful and objective manner. The questions incorporated in the scale are about personal traits and emotional positioning.

The team can use the scale to identify students who fail provide any negative answers concerning them. They can then create two groups, strictly for the purpose of the study.

Respondents who cannot reveal at least some insignificant negative information about them should be grouped together and deemed as unsuitable respondents. On the other hand, those who disclose some information regarding their private lives should be grouped as valid participants.

Ultimately, the researchers might reduce the margin of error outstandingly by using the scale to select the appropriate respondents.

A part from the scale, the researchers should consider that their clients study on part-time basis and have other duties to take care of. They should devise interview programs that do not conflict with the students’ programs.

This might reduce the impact of social desirability bias on their report by increasing the opportunity for the students to prepare psychologically. The students are social beings and require adequate levels of privacy.

Despite using Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale and making appropriate arrangements, therefore, the researchers need to take further action to address privacy concerns.

The researchers should adopt the use of in-direct questions during interviews. Indirect questioning can be used as a forecasting methodology that asks participants to respond to well thought-out questions from the point of view of another person or group.

The indirect question invites participants to formulate forecasts about how a comparable other would treat the same issues.

The system minimizes the opportunities for misrepresentation of “private” opinions. Indirect questioning is based on the hypothesis that participants usually develop their unconscious believes into indistinct responses situations and disclose their real thoughts regarding socially sensitive issues.

This happens becomes the system makes respondents feel that they are giving information based on facts behind the “pretence of imposture” (Yang 2003). Therefore, they can use indirect questioning during the selection of respondents and the actual study period.

However, the researchers should be careful while using the indirect question since studies indicates that it may not eliminate all negative impacts of social desirability bias (Fisher 1993). Fisher stipulates that the scope at which predictions about others denote information regarding self is not explicit.

The researcher says that as the level of similarity between the respondent and the distinctive other declines, the intensity of inappropriate information increases in the replies of the respondent.

A non-alcoholic respondent, for example, may not be successful at projecting him/herself into an indirect reaction position in which the other individual is, as an intensive abuser of alcohol.

Additionally, other findings also put forward that predictions about others cannot be accurate (Bogdan 2000). Bogdan found that predictions could not reflect accurately the feelings and thoughts that a respondent would have given out had he/she been questioned directly.

Therefore, self-reported attitudes may not represent the prediction about the attitudes of the majority. Fisher (1993) also compared results generated through direct interviews against indirect interviews and concluded that social influence is pervasive in human behaviors.

Concussively, the university researchers should use scientific research tools such as the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale to identify the right sample size. They should also use indirect questioning since some of the respondents may be uncharitable and, therefore, intend to misrepresent certain information.

The experts should also use the research techniques innovatively to overcome the few previewed weaknesses. Notably, they stand a high chance of producing relatively accurate data if they adopt and implement the techniques effectively.

Reference List

Bogdan, R 2000, Minding minds: evolving a reflexive mind by interpreting others, Mass.: MIT Press, Cambridge.

Fisher, R 1993, ‘Social desirability bias and the validity of indirect questioning’, The Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 20 no.2 pp.303-315.

Yang, G 2003, Progress in asian social psychology conceptual and empirical contributions, Conn.: Praeger, Westport.

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