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Let's get ethical: Dealing with socially desirable responding online

Nancarrow, Clive; Brace, Ian


Clive Nancarrow

Ian Brace


Because marketing researchers are focusing increasingly on the issues of corporate and consumer social responsibility and other ethical behaviour, there is a clear need to assess the possible impact of Socially Desirable Responding in interviews on these topics in order to determine whether it exists and, if so, which techniques might reduce it. When measuring these types of sensitive attitudes and behaviours for the purposes of setting an agenda for corporate socially responsible activities, or when measuring consumer response to such activities, organisations need to obtain as accurate a measure as possible in order to obtain a picture of what is really happening and what people really think, rather than what they tell us they do and think. This would help avoid the over-reporting of what is socially desirable, under-reporting of what is not and, of course, avoid confounding attempts (to varying degrees) to examine the nature of relationships within the data. This paper argues 'Confidence Reassurance' and 'Face Saving' techniques appear to increase the honesty of respondents' answers in online surveys, and thus at least one of these measures should be included in any relevant research.


Nancarrow, C., & Brace, I. (2008). Let's get ethical: Dealing with socially desirable responding online

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2008
Journal Market Research Society Annual Conference 2008
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords socially desirable responding
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