Author(s): Tan L, Grace RC
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Abstract Social desirability--the desire to make a favorable impression on others-poses a significant threat to the validity of self-reports. This review examines research on social desirability in both forensic and nonforensic populations with the goal of identifying how best to minimize threats to the validity of research with sexual offenders. Although social desirability has long been a major research topic in personality, consensus has not been reached on key questions such as its dimensional structure and whether social desirability constitutes a trait or a response bias. Research with offenders has shown that social desirability is negatively related to recidivism and that different offender subtypes vary in the degree to which social desirability appears to influence self-reports, with child molesters exhibiting the strongest tendency to "fake good." Several methods of controlling for social desirability have been proposed, but the effectiveness of these methods in increasing validity of offender self reports is questionable. Given the lack of consensus in the personality literature, a fresh start is needed in which basic questions regarding social desirability are revisited with respect to offender populations.
This article was published in Sex Abuse
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Psychology