Socially Desirable Responding: The Evolution of a Construct
OVERVIEW Socially desirable responding (SDR) is typically defined as the tendency to give positive self-descriptions. Its status as a response style rests on the clarification of an underlying psychological construct. A brief history of such attempts is provided. Despite the growing consensus that there are two dimensions of SDR, their interpretation has varied over the years from minimalist operationalizations to elaborate construct validation. I argue for the necessity of demonstrating departure-from-reality in the self-reports of high SDR scorers: This criterion is critical for distinguishing SDR from related constructs. An appropriate methodology that operationalizes SDR directly in terms of self-criterion discrepancy is described. My recent work on this topic has evolved into a two-tiered taxonomy that crosses degree of awareness (conscious vs. unconscious) with content (agentic vs. communal qualities). Sufficient research on SDR constructs has accumulated to propose a broad reconciliation and integration.