Effects of Positive Distortion instructions on the factor structure of Socially Desirable Responding scales

Corina Mendoza, University of Texas at El Paso


Socially desirable responding (SDR) is the manifestation of an individual's desire to represent him or herself in a positive light on a self-report questionnaire. Two distinct types of questionnaire scales are commonly used to identify individuals who have engaged in SDR: Impression Management (IM) and Self-Deceptive Enhancement (SDE) scales. In the present study, 653 undergraduate students completed four IM scales, three SDE scales, and two brief questionnaires measuring the Big Five personality factors. Participants were randomly assigned to either a Control condition, in which they were instructed to complete the questionnaires according to standard instructions, or a Positive Distortion (PD) condition, in which they were instructed to respond to the questionnaires by creating a good impression of themselves. The study had two aims. First, it examined whether the factor structure and interpretive meaning of IM and SDE scales were the same in the PD condition as in the Control condition. Second, the study examined the validity and other psychometric properties of the Rare Virtue (HOI-RV) scale of the History Opinion Inventory - Revised (HOI-R; Fiedler, et al., 1997). The HOI-RV scale is an IM scale, derived from the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale (MCSD), that was used by the United States Air Force in the 1990s. Regarding the first aim of the study, it was found that the factor structure of IM and SDE scales was strikingly different under Control and PD conditions. Specifically, in the Control condition the IM scales loaded on a different factor from the SDE scales, whereas in the PD condition the IM and SDE scales both loaded on the same factor. This finding strongly suggests that the underlying meaning of IM and SDE scales is different among individuals who are positively distorting than among individuals who are not. Regarding the second aim of the study, evidence was found supporting the internal reliability and concurrent validity of the HOI-RV as a measure of IM.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Mendoza, Corina, "Effects of Positive Distortion instructions on the factor structure of Socially Desirable Responding scales" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1551236.