Are Studies of Dark Side Variables Confounded by Socially Desirable Responding? The Case of Materialism
Socially desirable responding (SDR) is the tendency of individuals to make themselves look good according to current cultural norms when answering researchers' questions. For over 50 years in the social sciences, SDR has been a complex and controversial issue, typically viewed as a contaminating response bias. Meanwhile, most consumer researchers have neglected SDR, including those studying sensitive "dark side" topics where SDR could have an especially detrimental impact on research conclusions. This article reviews conceptual, measurement, and statistical analysis issues related to SDR. Two surveys are then reported that explore the effect of SDR on testing propositions about the nomological network surrounding the materialism value. Implications and recommendations are discussed for investigating SDR in consumer research, including opportunities for future contributions. Copyright 1996 by the University of Chicago.
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