IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Measures of Desirability Beliefs and their Validity as Indicators for Socially Desirable Responding


  • Stocké, Volker

    () (Sonderforschungsbereich 504)

  • Hunkler, Christian

    (Sonderforschungsbereich 504)


Social desirability (SD)-bias is a serious threat for survey-data quality, and the respondents’ desirability beliefs have proven in many studies to predict the incentives for the strength as well as for the direction of this bias. However, the issue of the relative validity of different ways to measure these incentives has hardly received any attention. We introduced three such measures and discussed the respective tradeoffs between their parsimony on the one hand and the implied assumptions which have to be fulfilled on the other. In the empirical part of our paper, we tested with four questionnaire topics whether and how strong these assumptions are violated and thus how much measurement effort is necessary to obtain a sufficiently good indicator for the perceived incentives for SD-bias. These topics were: (a) having prejudice against the elderly, (b) making charitable donations, (c) participating in political elections and (d) being environmentally conscious. We found the most parsimonious one-point measure to be strongly affected by measurement error in the case of all questionnaire topics. Depending on how strong the assumption of monotony was violated, for some topics the medium elaborated simple difference scores were sufficiently valid, but partly only the most elaborated domain-specific difference scores were a valid predictor for the potential strength and direction of incentives for SD-bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Stocké, Volker & Hunkler, Christian, 2006. "Measures of Desirability Beliefs and their Validity as Indicators for Socially Desirable Responding," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 06-03, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  • Handle: RePEc:xrs:sfbmaa:06-03
    Note: We gratefully acknowledge stimulating discussions with Hartmut Esser. Financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:xrs:sfbmaa:06-03. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Carsten Schmidt). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.