Using social desirability scales in research among the elderly

Wil Dijkstra*, Johannes H. Smit, Hannie C. Comijs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

A consistent finding is that elderly people obtain higher scores on social desirability (SD) scales than younger ones. It is usually assumed that elderly people are more eager to present themselves in a favourable way. Hence, especially in survey-research among the elderly, it is common practice to include SD-scales to correct for spurious relationships. In this article it is argued that the assumptions underlying such practice are doubtful, because SD-scores may be affected by a variety of factors but the tendency to present oneself favourably. Two such factors related to the question-answering process are discussed in more detail. Empirical support is provided that these factors may explain the relationship between the score on a SD-scale and age. It is argued that using SD-scales to correct for relationships between variables, may lead to erroneous results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalQuality and Quantity
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2001

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