The interdependence of determinants for the strength and direction of social disirability bias in racial attitude surveys

Stocké, Volker

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-27302
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2004
The title of a journal, publication series: None
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Law and Economics > Sonstige - Fakultät für Rechtswissenschaft und Volkswirtschaftslehre
MADOC publication series: Sonderforschungsbereich 504 > Rationalitätskonzepte, Entscheidungsverhalten und ökonomische Modellierung (Laufzeit 1997 - 2008)
Subject: 300 Social sciences, sociology, anthropology
Subject headings (SWD): Mikroökonomie , Verhalten , Wert , Bias , Interaktion
Keywords (English): Mode of administration , need for social approval , racial attitudes , rational-choice theory , response bias , trait desirability
Abstract: Empirical evidence suggests that the respondents' approval motive, their desirability beliefs and the privacy of the response situation affects respondents' susceptibility to social desirability bias. Previous research has analyzed the explanatory power of these factors separately and has not taken their possible interdependence as determinants for social desirability bias into account. This article tests the prediction from rational-choice theory that a strong approval motive, clear differences in the perceived desirability of response options and a lack of privacy are all necessary but not sufficient conditions for social desirability bias. According to the empirical results from our first study a three-way interaction between the analyzed factors predicts respondents' racial attitude reports. However, since attitude answers and desirability beliefs were collected in the same interview, the observed associations may be an artifact due to subjects' sensitization for social desirability concerns. This possibility is tested in a second study, where only racial attitude answers were collected under conditions of varying response privacy. Aggregated response differences between the utilized attitude items and respondents' social group affiliation were matched with equivalent differences in the desirability beliefs found in the first study. The results from the main study were replicated with this independent sample of respondents.
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