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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Confirmatory factor analyses of two social desirability scales and the investigation of their contribution to measures of well-being Callaway, Robert John


The relations between social desirability bias and happiness and depression were experimentally investigated to determine if the stated goals of Positive Psychology may be compromised by social desirability contamination of subjective well-being measures. In addition, the factor structures of two widely used social desirability measures were assessed. Participants included 201 undergraduate university students enrolled in psychology classes at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Participants rated their happiness with the Faces Scale, Subjective Happiness Scale, Oxford Happiness Questionnaire-Short Form (OHQ-SF), and Satisfaction With Life Scale, and rated their depression with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale. Social desirability was assessed with the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale and the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding-Version 6 (BIDR-6). The experimental manipulation consisted of two levels of privacy instructions (confidentiality vs. anonymity) and three levels of emotionally focussed instructions (happy, sad, neutral), intended to influence scores on the happiness, depression, and social desirability measures. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) revealed that neither of the social desirability scales conformed to their proposed one- and two-factor structures, respectively. Multiple regression analyses revealed that although the social desirability measures accounted for between 5-11% of the variance in the happiness and depression measures, only the BIDR-6 contributed significant unique variance, and then only to the OHQ-SF. The results from the multivariate analysis of variance showed that the experimental manipulation had no effect on respondents’ scores. The results suggest that social desirability bias plays only a minimal role in measures of happiness and depression, paralleling previous research. Thus, the goals of Positive Psychology appear not to be compromised. However, the results from the CFAs strongly suggest that this conclusion should be viewed with caution; the construct of social desirability is in need of further elucidation and the factor structures of the two most widely used measures of social desirability are in need of further confirmation. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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