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Social desirability bias in self-monitoring data

Abstract

This study examined effects of social desirability responding on self-monitoring data in the context of assertion training. Subjects were thirty women and men who were enrolled in assertion training. Measures included the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (M-C), the Assertion Inventory, the Assertion Self-Statement Test (ASST), assertion diaries, and behavioral ratings of assertion and anxiety made by the group leaders. As predicted, high M-C scorers described themselves as more assertive than low M-C scorers. In addition, high M-C scorers identified fewer assertion-related goals, and they submitted fewer diaries with fewer entries describing their assertive behavior. Furthermore, they related the outcomes of their attempts at assertive behavior as more positive than low M-C scorers. High M-C scorers also endorsed more positive than negative self-statements on the ASST, while the reverse was true of the low scorers. In contrast to the more positive self-descriptions of high M-C scorers, the trainers rated this group as significantly less assertive than low scorers. Predicted differences in anxiety were not significant. Implications for the validity of self-monitoring data are discussed.

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Correspondence to Janice Kiecolt-Glaser.

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Kiecolt-Glaser, J., Murray, J.A. Social desirability bias in self-monitoring data. Journal of Behavioral Assessment 2, 239–247 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01666783

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Key words

  • self-monitoring
  • social desirability
  • assertion
  • response set