Socially Desirable Responding in Computerized Questionnaires: When Questionnaire Purpose Matters More Than the Mode1


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    An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1997 Academy of Management annual meeting in Boston. The authors thank the Georgia Tech Organizational Behavior Group for comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to James M. Wilkerson, Department of Management and Marketing, School of Business, Southern Illinois University, Box 1100, Edwardsville, IL 62026-1100. E-mail:


The impact of questionnaire purpose (job screening interview vs. consumer survey) and the impact of questionnaire mode (paper-and-pencil vs. computer) on multiple measures of socially desirable responding (SDR) were examined. Students (N= 85) participated in experimental job screening (high SDR demand) and consumer survey (low SDR demand) conditions. Dependent measures included the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale and the impression management subscale of the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding, Version 6. Significant questionnaire purpose effects suggest one possible, context-related explanation for mixed SDR findings between earlier experiments. Mode effects were nonsignificant, adding further evidence of paper-and-pencil and computer equivalence with respect to SDR.