According to Paulhus (2002), socially desirable responding (SDR) can be separated into unconscious self-enhancement (SE) and conscious impression management (IM), which both appear in two content domains (egoistic and moralistic). Previous studies testing the possibility to separate SE from IM were based solely on SDR scales, whose construct validity is questionable. This study used a new methodological approach – response latencies to personality questionnaire items, to test whether it is possible to separate two forms of SDR in two content domains. A sample of students (N = 206) filled-in a five-factor personality questionnaire in three motivational situations: honest responding, induced egoistic and induced moralistic bias. In addition, every participant was rated on the same questionnaire by four close peers. The possibility of separating SE from IM was tested by comparing latencies for responses indicating SE and IM with honest responses, as well as by direct comparison of latencies for responses indicating two types of SDR. Responses indicating SE, IM and honest responding were determined directly, using discrepancies between personality self-reports in different motivational situations and other-ratings that represented “true” personality traits. Results confirmed the possibility to differentiate SE from IM—while the latencies of responses indicating honest responding and SE did not differ, the latencies for responses indicating IM were significantly longer than latencies for the remaining two types of responses. These results confirm Paulus’s assumption about two separate forms of SDR (unconscious and conscious SDR), as well as the possibility of using latency times for detection of IM on personality questionnaires.
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Attempts to normalize the distribution by squaring or logarithmizing the latency time did not lead to distributions suitable for performing parametric procedures.
Although, in order to be consistent with the literature in the field, extreme latency times were corrected, all analyzes were conducted with uncorrected times as well as extreme response latencies treated as missing values. Given the small percentage of extreme results and nonparametric analyses that were used, the obtained results with uncorrected latency times and latency times corrected as missing values were exactly the same as those with originally corrected latency times. Also, other thresholds were also tried (e.g., upper threshold set at 10 s) and the output was the same.
Again, attempts to normalize the distribution by squaring or logarithmizing the latency time did not lead to distributions suitable for performing parametric procedures.
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Kovačić, M.P. Usefulness of item response latencies in separating self-enhancement from impression management. Curr Psychol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-02375-2
- Response latency time
- Impression management
- Honest responding
- Egoistic/moralistic bias
- Personality questionnaires