Historical Overview of Conceptualizations of Socially Desirable Responding in Personality Questionnaires

Maša Tonković Grabovac


Given the fact that people can distort their responses in
personality questionnaires, and research shows that they
usually do, socially desirable responding represents an
important practical research issue that has been present for
decades. Researchers generally agree that socially desirable
responding can be described as a tendency of giving overly
positive descriptions of one's own traits which are adjusted
with social norms and standards. However, there is the
debate, which has been going on since the mid-20th century,
on whether it is a measurement error which contaminates the
validity of personality questionnaires or the individual
differences in personality. In order to understand the results
of previous researches, it is necessary to know the approach
within which researchers created a particular conceptualization
and particular instruments for measuring socially
desirable responding. However, the literature lacks a
systematic review which includes a comprehensive overview
of all the conceptualizations. Hence, this review aims to
examine gradual changes in the definition and methodology
of research on socially desirable responding, which played a
key role in forming contemporary models of socially
desirable responding. The review ends with a conclusion of
the overview of previous research, guidelines for future
research and practical implications.


socially desirable responding; impression management; self-enhancement; lie scales; personality questionnaires

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Print ISSN 1330-0288 | Online ISSN 1848-6096