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Abstract

Social desirability is one of the most common sources of bias affecting the validity of experimental and survey research findings. From a self-presentational perspective, social desirability can be regarded as the resultant of two separate factors: self-deception and other-deception. Two main modes of coping with social desirability bias are distinguished. The first mode comprises two methods aimed at the detection and measurement of social desirability bias: the use of social desirability scales, and the rating of item desirability. A second category comprises seven methods to prevent or reduce social desirability bias, including the use of forced-choice items, the randomized response technique, the bogus pipeline, self-administration of the questionnaire, the selection of interviewers, and the use of proxy subjects. Not one method was found to excel completely and under all conditions in coping with both other-deceptive and self-deceptive social desirability bias. A combination of prevention and detection methods offers the best choice available.