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The social desirability response bias in ethics research

Abstract

This study examines the impact of a social desirability response bias as a personality characteristic (self-deception and impression management) and as an item characteristic (perceived desirability of the behavior) on self-reported ethical conduct. Findings from a sample of college students revealed that self-reported ethical conduct is associated with both personality and item characteristics, with perceived desirability of behavior having the greatest influence on self-reported conduct. Implications for research in business ethics are drawn, and suggestions are offered for reducing the effects of a socially desirable response bias.

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Donna M. Randall is an Associate Professor in Management and Systems at Washington State University. Her research interests include organizational commitment, media coverage of elite crime, and ethical issues in management. Her publications have appeared in such journals as Decision Sciences, Academy of Management Review, and Journal of Business Ethics.

Maria F. Fernandes is a doctoral student in the Department of Management and Systems. Her research interests lie in the area of business ethics and equity theory. Her current research explores cognitive processes involving ethical decision making.

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Randall, D.M., Fernandes, M.F. The social desirability response bias in ethics research. J Bus Ethics 10, 805–817 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00383696

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Keywords

  • Economic Growth
  • College Student
  • Ethic Research
  • Business Ethic
  • Great Influence