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ISER Working Paper Series 2013-04

Understanding sources of social desirability bias in different modes: evidence from eye-tracking


Publication date

07 Mar 2013


Our paper provides an empirical study of whether satisficing is related to social desirability bias using real-world eye-tracking. The method enables detecting latency of eye gazes in web, face-to-face and paper and pencil self-administered (SAQ) modes. Through these we infer respondents’ attention to question wording, socially desirable and socially undesirable response scale points. We link the gaze latency measures to responses to understand how respondents arrive at socially desirable or undesirable answers. We find that satisficing is related to social desirability bias in self-completion modes. Yet it does not explain the higher incidence of socially desirable responses in face-to-face mode.


Survey Methodology and Social Psychology

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