Social Desirability Influences on Self-Reported Sexuality

Socially desirable responding, the tendency to tailor responses for the purpose of looking good, has been a topic of concern in self-report assessment for over five decades. The influence of socially desirable responding on self-report measures of sexual behavior has been of particular concern given the private nature of sexual activity, and the fact that people often feel embarrassed or threatened when asked to provide information on their sexual encounters. Together with colleagues, I have published two studies (Meston, Heiman, Trapnell, & Paulhus, 1998; Meston, Heiman Trapnell, & Carlin, 1999) that address the question of which relationships exist between self-reported sexuality and measures of socially desirable responding when the data is collected under well controlled, anonymous testing conditions.

Recommended papers: 

Meston, CM, Heiman, JR, Trapnell, PD & Carlin, AS (1999). Ethnicity, desirable responding, and self-reports of abuse: A comparison of European- and Asian-ancestry undergraduates. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 139-144. PDF (1.03 MB)

Meston, CM, Heiman, JR, Trapnell, PD & Paulhus, DL (1998). Socially desirable responding and sexuality self-reports. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 148-157. PDF (1.92 MB)