Explanation/ definition social desirability bias
Researchers have been employed by the university to collect data and information from post graduate students of a diverse nature. The data collected it to detail how much time this group spends on academic work. Furthermore, it is to establish what they do during such a time. The study by the researches would be affected in a way that the results would not be accurate. This would be because of social desirability bias.
Social desirability bias can be detailed as a situation during the research process whereby the respondents try to give responses or answers that they deem to be socially accepted or will be viewed approvingly by others. It can be characterized by giving too much information about something that is acceptable but giving little or minimal information if the subject in question is considered unethical or inadequate. It is usually significant in the case of research that addresses topics that are viewed as sensitive or are personal.
Theoretical accounts from sociology state that in pursing goals in social interactions, people try to determine how others see them, in this case the post graduate masters students. Being viewed more favorably by others is expected to increase rewards and reduce the chances of punishments, which may encourage people to demonstrate a favorable impression of them that is acceptable, but perhaps also deceive themselves.
Therefore, during research the content of the questions determine the responses bases on the biases. Questions that are inclined towards social desirability should be phased out carefully or avoided ensuring the results are accurate. The respondents would also be less prone to include biases whether knowingly or unconsciously.
Identification of its importance and dangers in the research process
In the research process, social desirability bias has some importance and dangers. For a start, evidence of this bias comes from analyses of interviewer effects. The assumption here is that the observable characteristics of the interviewer may indicate to a respondent the answer the interviewer considers desirable. The respondent gives responses that are influenced by the interviewers’ characteristics and it suggests that the respondents tailored their answers accordingly. For instance if during the research process the researcher is assumed younger than the respondents, then the expected response would not be similar if, in the same case, the researcher was older or of equal age to the respondents. Therefore, these findings suggest elimination of the interviewers’ awareness of the respondents answer so as to reduce social desirability response bias.
When the research is conducted in a specific group context, the balance between the researcher and respondents is influenced. Therefore, those who are interviewed can be recognized as having more power because of their numbers; thus this is valuable. This tendency would allow trust between the researcher and the group to develop. This way, biases that are formed unconsciously by the responded would be minimized, and the researcher will get valuable information.
Social desirability bias has several dangers to the research process. For instances, misreporting can make the data collected by the researchers to be full of errors. This is because the post graduate masters’ students would not accurately give details about how much time they spend on their academic work and what they do during this time. Misreporting results from record-check studies, in which respondents answers are compared against entries that are in existent I official records. Using records as the validation standard, many people falsely reported in the socially desirable direction that in the socially undesirable one.
During the survey, especially on a morally sensitive issue, the validity of the survey’s results would be threatened. From formalistic perspectives, because socially unwanted behavior violates principles of fairness to others and thus is viewed as morally sensitive immoral behavior thus participants will make considerable incentives in order to answer in a sociable way.
Social desirability bias can be applicable in various ways during the research. For a start, the respondents, which are the students, would give misleading information based on prior knowledge of records already established by the university. They would give information to the researches that they deem to be favorable to them, and it would not lead to measures being taken by the university. Such measure could be undesirable to them, for instance, the university putting in place measures to ensure that the post graduate masters’ students spend more time on their academic work. This can be realized through strict policies like reducing the deadlines set for doing academic work to encourage seriousness.
If the research is based on observable studies, then the researchers should spend more time in the research settings. The researches should interact with the students so as the students get habituated to their presence. This would reduce the dangers involved with biases that may arise. The students would also act differently if they realized that the researcher was studying them thus it would also lead to social desirably bias. Therefore, if the researcher stayed with them for some time and studied their observable behaviors, valuable information will be collected. The researcher will find it easy to determine what the students do during the time set aside for their academic work if he is directly involved in their activities.
In conclusion, social desirability is an important factor that has to be considered during any research. The researchers should be able to realize the benefits and detrimental effects it would have on the output of their research. Therefore, during the research on the post graduate students, the researchers should have the various elements of social desirability in mind.
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