Social desirability bias in self-reported well-being measures: evidence from an online survey

Andrea Caputo


Social desirability seems to enhance well-being measures because individuals tend to increase the degree of their satisfaction and happiness resulting in response artifacts and in a serious threat to the validity of self-reported data. This paper explores social desirability bias in self-reported subjective well-being, controlling for several socio-demographic variables such as gender, age, education, marital/relationship status and employment status. This is in order to test whether social desirability has incremental validity in predicting some well-being measures. Three different facets of well-being are proposed which deal with subjective happiness, general life satisfaction, and gratitude and loneliness, respectively regarded as a positive and negative emotional response. Through a web-based survey a convenience sample of 170 participants completed an online questionnaire including measures of social desirability, subjective happiness, life satisfaction, gratitude and loneliness. Correlation analyses and two-step hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted. All well-being measures show modest significant correlations with social desirability ranging from .235 to .309, except subjective happiness. Social desirability accounted for from about 3% to 6% of the variance of these measures, after controlling for socio-demographic variables. Social desirability seems thus to play little role in well-being self-report measures, as revealed by previous studies. Some limitations are discussed, as well as issues about social desirability bias in online investigation.

Palabras clave

social desirability bias; psychological well-being; web-based survey; happiness; gratitude

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Copyright (c) 2017 Andrea Caputo

Licencia de Creative Commons: Esta obra está registrada bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento 4.0 Internacional. Creado a partir de