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Donor Misreporting: Conceptualizing Social Desirability Bias in Giving Surveys

  • Zoe LeeEmail author
  • Lucy Woodliffe
Original Paper

Abstract

Although survey research is one of the most frequently used methods for studying charitable giving, the quality of the data is seldom stated or known. In particular, social desirability bias (SDB) has been found to distort data validity where respondents tend to over-report what is socially desirable and vice versa. We argue that this phenomenon has not been fully understood in the nonprofit context as existing social desirability scales are not appropriate to be used in giving surveys. Thus, this paper is the first to extend understanding of SDB to the nonprofit context and to explore its motivating factors. Based on a multidisciplinary literature review and qualitative interviews with various senior practitioners from the fundraising and marketing research sectors, it is suggested that SDB is a multidimensional construct yielding five dimensions, namely, impression management, self-deception, level of involvement, perceived benefits and social norms. The paper then discusses the implications for nonprofit researchers and concludes with directions for future research.

Keywords

Social desirability Giving surveys Measurement Misreporting 

Résumé

Bien que les enquêtes soient l’une des méthodes les plus fréquemment utilisées pour l’étude des dons de bienfaisance, la qualité des données est rarement définie ni connue. En particulier, il a été constaté que le biais de désirabilité sociale faussait la validité des données lorsque les répondants avaient tendance à surévaluer ce qui est socialement souhaitable, et inversement. Nous montrons que ce phénomène n’a pas été totalement compris dans le secteur non lucratif, puisque les échelles actuelles de désirabilité sociale ne sont pas adaptées pour être utilisés dans les enquêtes sur les dons. Cette étude est donc la première à étendre la conception du biais de désirabilité sociale au contexte du secteur non lucratif et à en explorer les facteurs de motivation. Reposant sur une revue de la littérature multidisciplinaire et des entretiens qualitatifs menés auprès de différents spécialistes de haut niveau dans les secteurs de collecte de fonds et des études de marché, il y est suggéré que le biais de désirabilité sociale est un concept multidimensionnel qui produit cinq dimensions, à savoir la gestion des impressions, la tromperie, le niveau de participation, les avantages perçus et les normes sociales. Ce document examine ensuite les conséquences pour les chercheurs du secteur non lucratif et se termine par des orientations pour la recherche future.

Zusammenfassung

Obgleich die Umfrageforschung eine der am häufigsten verwendeten Methoden zur Studie von wohltätigem Spendenverhalten ist, werden nur selten Angaben zur Datenqualität gemacht bzw. die Datenqualität ist oftmals gänzlich unbekannt. Insbesondere das sozial erwünschte Antwortverhalten (zu englisch: Social Desirability Bias (SDB)) verzerrt die Datengültigkeit in Fällen, in denen die Befragten dazu neigen, ihre Antworten übermäßig auf das, was sozial erwünscht bzw. unerwünscht ist, abzustimmen. Wir glauben, dass dieses Phänomen im Nonprofit-Kontext nicht vollständig verstanden wird; denn die existierenden Skalen zur Messung der sozialen Erwünschtheit sind für die Verwendung in Befragungen zum Spendenverhalten unangemessen. Somit ist dies der erste Beitrag, der das Verständnis des sozial erwünschten Antwortverhaltens auf den Nonprofit-Bereich ausweitet und die Motivationsfaktoren ergründet. Die Ergebnisse einer multidisziplinären Literaturrecherche und qualitativer Befragungen verschiedener führender Fachleute aus den Bereichen der Mittelbeschaffung und Marktforschung deuten darauf hin, dass das sozial erwünschte Antwortverhalten ein multidimensionales Konstrukt ist, das aus fünf Dimensionen besteht, nämlich dem Impressionsmanagement, der Selbsttäuschung, dem Involvierungsgrad, dem wahrgenommenen Nutzen und den gesellschaftlichen Normen. In dem Beitrag werden des Weiteren die Implikationen für Forscher im Nonprofit-Bereich erörtert und abschließend Hilfestellungen für zukünftige Forschungen bereitgestellt.

Resumen

Aunque los estudios de mercado son uno de los métodos más utilizados para conocer las donaciones benéficas, la calidad de los datos rara vez se menciona o se conoce. En concreto, se ha descubierto que el SDB (social desirability bias, predisposición a la conveniencia social) distorsiona la validez de los datos, ya que los encuestados tienden a exagerar lo que es socialmente deseable o viceversa. Lo que argumentamos es que este fenómeno no ha sido entendido del todo en el entorno sin ánimo de lucro, ya que las escalas de la conveniencia social existentes no son aptas para su uso en estudios de donaciones. Así, este trabajo es el primero en extender la comprensión del SDB al entorno sin ánimo de lucro y en explorar los factores de motivación. Basándonos en un repaso literario multidisciplinar y en entrevistas cualitativas con varios profesionales veteranos de los sectores de estudios de marketing y de recaudación de fondos, sugerimos que el SDB es un una estructura multidimensional con cinco dimensiones: gestión de impresiones, autoengaño, nivel de compromiso, ventajas percibidas y normas sociales. En este trabajo se tratan las implicaciones para los investigadores sin ánimo de lucro y para concluir, se ofrecen directrices para las futuras investigaciones.

摘要

虽然调查研究是学习慈善捐赠最常用的方法之一,但却很少规定或明确数据的质量。特别是,已发现社会称许性偏见(SDB),歪曲数据的有效性,受访者往往会过度报告什么是社会称许的,反之亦然。我们认为,在非营利机构这种现象尚未得到充分理解,因为现有的社会称许性量表不适合用于捐赠调查。因此,本文首次将对SDB的理解延伸到非营利机构,探讨其动机因素。 基于多学科的文献综述和对筹款和市场营销研究部门的各类高级从业人员的定性访谈,建议SDB是一个多层面构建,提供五个方面,即,印象管理、自我欺骗、参与程度、感知利益和社会规范。然后,本文讨论了对非营利研究人员的影响,并总结了未来的研究方向。

要約

調査研究は慈善事業への寄付を研究するために最も使用される方法の1つだが、データの質が明らかにされることも、周知されることもない。特に、社会的望ましさによるバイアス(SDB)においては、回答者が、社会的に望まれること、もしくは望まれないことを報告し過ぎる傾向があり、データの正確性を歪曲していることが明らかになった。社会的に望ましいスケールが調査の中で適切に使用されない場合においては、非営利団体が完全に理解されることはないと主張する。従って、本論文ではまずSDBへの理解を非営利団体の場合にも拡大して、意欲を高めるような要因を考察する。 SDBにおいては、調査セクターにおける資金提供とマーケティングから年輩の経験者への定性面接と複合的な文献のレビューに基づいて、印象的な経営、自己欺瞞、関与のレベル、認知されるメリット、社会規範の5つの基準を用いた多次元的な構成概念を提案する。本論文では、非営利団体の研究者について議論し、今後の調査のための方向性を提示する。

ملخص

على الرغم من أن الدراسة البحثية تعتبر أحد أكثر الأساليب المستخدمة لدراسة العطاء الخيري، نوعية البيانات نادراً ما تذكر أو تعرف. على وجه الخصوص، التحيز للإستحسان الإجتماعي(SDB) الذي وجد أنه يشوه صحة البيانات حيث المجيبين يميلون إلى المبالغة فيما هو مرغوب فيه إجتماعياً والعكس بالعكس. يمكننا القول أن هذه الظاهرة لم يتم فهمها تماماً في السياق الغير ربحي كما أن مقاييس الإستحسان الإجتماعي الحالي ليس مناسب لإستخدامه في الدراسات الإستقصائية للعطاء. هكذا، هذا البحث يعتبر الأول ليوسع الفهم للتحيز للإستحسان الإجتماعي (SDB) للسياق الغير ربحي و إستكشاف العوامل المحركة له. إستناداً إلى إستعراض الكتابات المتعددة التخصصات والمقابلات النوعية مع مختلف الممارسين الكبار من قطاعات جمع الأموال و بحوث التسويق ، تم إقتراح أن التحيز للإستحسان الإجتماعي(SDB) هو بناء متعدد الأبعاد يؤدي إلى خمسة أبعاد، هي:، إدارة الانطباع، خداع النفس، مستوى المشاركة، الفوائد المتصورة والقواعد الاجتماعية. ثم يناقش البحث الآثار المترتبة على الباحثين الغيرساعيين للربح، ويختتم بإتجاهات للبحث في المستقبل.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The John's Hopkins University 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Department of Marketing, Bristol Business SchoolUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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