Substance and Style in Socially Desirable Responding


  • This research was supported by the Academy of Finland Research Grant 12106181 and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Research Grant 410-2002-1698.

concerning this paper should be sent to Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, PO BOX 9, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. E-mail:


ABSTRACT The purpose of the present series of studies was to evaluate whether Paulhus's (1991) Self-Deceptive Enhancement (SDE) and Communion Management (CM) socially desirable responding (SDR) scales should be interpreted as response set measures, response style measures, or measures of substantive individual differences in personality. In Study 1 (N=57) and Study 2 (N=62), army officer trainees were tested as applicants to their program and retested as incumbents 3 years later. Although participants generally responded to the situation by showing higher SDR scores in the applicant conditions, they also showed considerable rank-order stability across time. In Study 3 (N=70), self-reports on both SDR scales were corroborated by spouse reports, and, furthermore, SDE scores correlated with spouse reports of low Neuroticism and high Extraversion. Our data are interpreted as suggesting that both the CM and SDE scales are, in some varying amounts, measures of response set, response style, and substantive individual differences in personality. Implications of our findings for personality assessment and personnel selection are discussed.