In social science research, social-desirability bias is a type of response bias that is the tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. It can take the form of over-reporting "good behavior" or under-reporting "bad", or undesirable behavior. The tendency poses a serious problem with conducting research with self-reports. This bias interferes with the interpretation of average tendencies as well as individual differences.
Until the 1990s, the most commonly used measure of socially desirable responding was the Marlowe–Crowne Social Desirability Scale. The original version comprised 33 True-False items. A shortened version, the Strahan–Gerbasi only comprises ten items, but some have raised questions regarding the reliability of this measure.
In 1991, Delroy L. Paulhus published the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR): a questionnaire designed to measure two forms of SDR. This forty-item instrument provides separate subscales for "impression management," the tendency to give inflated self-descriptions to an audience; and self-deceptive enhancement, the tendency to give honest but inflated self-descriptions. The commercial version of the BIDR is called the "Paulhus Deception Scales (PDS)."
Scales designed to tap response styles are available in all major languages, including Italian and German.
"Extreme-response style" (ERS) takes the form of exaggerated-extremity preference, e.g. for '1' or '7' on 7-point scales. Its converse, 'moderacy bias' entails a preference for middle-range (or midpoint) responses (e.g. 3–5 on 7-point scales).
"Acquiescence" (ARS) is the tendency to respond to items with agreement/affirmation independent of their content ("yea"-saying).
These kinds of response styles differ from social-desirability bias in that they are unrelated to the question's content and may be present in both socially neutral and in socially favorable or unfavorable contexts, whereas SDR is, by definition, tied to the latter.