Socially Desirable Response Behavior as Rational Choice: The Case of Attitudes Towards Foreigners
The respondents in social surveys often answer in a socially desirable, rather than in a truthful manner. Although several factors are found to influence the strength of this social desirability response bias, their interplay with each other is widely neglected because of the insufficient theoretical foundation in this field of research. A rational-choice model is therefore proposed as the theoretical basis for explaining socially desirable response behavior. This model is applied in order to explain the respondents' answers concerning their attitudes towards foreigners. The predicted three-way interaction effect between the response privacy, the differences in the options' social desirability and the respondents' need for social approval proves to be a relevant predictor for the responses. Accordingly, the subjects answers become more conform with the perceived evaluation standards of the society as their need for social approval increases and simultaneously an 'audience' is present to provide positive or negative feedback.
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|Date of creation:||16 Apr 2001|
|Note:||Stimulating comments of and discussions with Hartmut Esser, Nikolaus Beck, Till Deibele and Stephan Ganter are gratefully acknowledged. Furthermore, I thank several participants of the 'Fifth International Conference on Social Science Methodology of the International Sociological Association' in Cologne, October 3-6, 2000 for helpful discussions about an earlier version of this paper. Financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.|
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