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Social Desirability Bias

Part 2. Marketing Research

  1. Pamela Grimm

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem02057

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Grimm, P. 2010. Social Desirability Bias. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 2.

Author Information

  1. Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Social desirability bias refers to the tendency of research subjects to give socially desirable responses instead of choosing responses that are reflective of their true feelings. The bias in responses due to this personality trait becomes a major issue when the scope of the study involves socially sensitive issues such as politics, religion, and environment, or personal issues such as drug use, cheating, and smoking. Whenever possible, it is desirable to measure the extent of the bias present in responses to a survey by incorporating a socially desirable scale in the survey. A number of methods to address this issue are suggested in the literature. Use of a well-trained interviewer or collection of data through methods that do not require presence involvement of an interviewer can help avoid this bias to some extent. Properly identified options to questions vulnerable to social desirability effect is another means of tackling this issue.


  • social desirability bias;
  • social desirability scale;
  • response bias;
  • demand effects;
  • social norms