This is a kind of behavior in which respondents answer questions, which in one or another way are viewed as favorable in the eyes of others. People doing self-reports, always report inaccurately when it comes to the sensitive topics so as to ensure they present themselves properly (Fisher, 1993). This could be as a result of self-deceptions. The social desirability may affect research findings and experimental validity. However, procedures, like making use of the forced choice of items and proxy subjects, may be effective in reducing the social desirability (Nederhof, 1985). The people with social desirability bias have a belief that the person is not trying to be deceitful or malicious but fears to reveal some information which will make a judgment about them.
In business research, people also have this social desirability bias and tend to hide some information when they are required to do so. This paper looks at ways in which the social desirability bias would affect results of the researchers doing a study of how much time university students spend on charity services.
How Social Desirability Bias can affect the study.
The social desirability may affect the research because of receiving data which is not truly representative or accurate. If in the research a participant provides information that is in accordance with the social norms, the data is in no way accurate for the investigated variable.
The participant could also provide information in a way that they feel the researcher would feel happy about instead of giving the correct information or the way they feel. For example, if the employed researchers decide to do their research from the university students on how much time they spend in charity work, the students may give false information just to please the researcher. This data becomes confounded and inaccurate. It cannot give the actual results of the investigation.
The first important aspect when evaluating research is to consider how honest the participants are. This is necessary because the topic being dealt with is very sensitive i.e. asking the part-time postgraduate students how much time they spend on charity work. It should also be noted that we do not know the kind of topic that the university students regard as sensitive. The students may tell lies like they could give more hours to be seen to be very charitable. This would make the university have better analysis hence commend them for their voluntary work.
To reduce the effect of social desirability and increase the chances of getting accurate results, we should take into consideration the aspect of anonymity as much as possible. If my aim is to know the number of hours that a student spends on charity work, the best method is to provide them with anonymous questionnaire and request them to fill it. This would bring better results than when one uses the phone or face-to-face interview. This is because the participant may be embarrassed about a certain aspect and would be tempted to hide this to a person seated next to him or her. Those students who do not participate or spend fewer hours may feel embarrassed to say tell the truth hence end up telling lies. People tend to be more honest when they have a feeling that they cannot be identified (Eliane, 2009).
We could also ensure that the participants know that researchers and other participants will never use their responses to associate them. This can be done by ensuring the participants are spread out when filling the questionnaires. Envelopes could be provided so that the participants can put the questionnaires when they are done. In this case the participants will be confident and feel secure that nobody can accuse or associate them with the responses provided.
The number of participants should be more because participants feel anonymous when they are many. Few people would not feel very anonymous. If the study involves about one hundred and fifty students, they would feel more secure unlike a group of ten or five. The questions should also not be very personal as this would also make the participants less anonymous. (Eliane, 2009).
Social desirability can also be possible when we want students to tell us the number of hours they spend on charity, but it is quite difficult to get the accurate number. Therefore no matter what we do, it is difficult to completely eliminate social desirability effect in our study.