The Impact of Social Desirability Biases on Self-Report Among College Student and Problem Gamblers
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The impacts of two types of social desirability bias, self-deceptive enhancement (SDE) and impression management (IM), were examined on self-reports of gambling problems, measured by the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), and recent gambling behavior, as measured by the Timeline Followback (TLFB) method, in a sample of college students (N = 191), and a sample of treatment-seeking problem gamblers (N = 49). Consistent with our expectations, IM was negatively associated with SOGS scores in both samples. IM was most highly correlated with SOGS scores among treatment-seeking participants (r = −.44, p < .01). Substantial numbers of participants in both samples had high enough IM scores as to call into question the validity of their self-report gambling data, according to published interpretive guidelines. With respect to SDE, we had predicted that it would be positively related to gambling behaviors and gambling-related problems, but found that SDE was inversely related to SOGS scores in both samples. Very little evidence was found for social desirability effects on TLFB scores. Thus, preliminary evidence was obtained that self-report data on gambling problems, but not on gambling behavior (frequency of gambling and amount of time and money spent), may be susceptible to the effects of impression management in both college students and treatment-seeking gamblers.
KeywordsGambling Social desirability Self-deceptive enhancement Impression management South Oaks Gambling Screen Timeline Followback
The authors wish to thank the research assistants who collected, entered, and checked data including Danijela Zlatevski, Ed Orehek, Robyn Childers, Jessica Beatty, Lissette Waldeck, Brad Rockafellow, Boddie Kamrani, and Marissa Burcham. Findings from an earlier version of this study were presented at the Convention of the National Center for Responsible Gaming, Las Vegas, NV on Dec. 8, 2002.
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