Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Deborah L. Bandalos

Kethera Fogler

John Hathcoat


Self-report items are ubiquitous in social sciences and services and medical centers. However, there is some concern about whether people are able to accurately report about themselves. One well-known source of concern is social desirability bias (SDB) or socially desirable responding (SDR), which involves people providing overly-positive responses about themselves that better align with social norms than might their actual attitudes or behaviors. However, several researchers (e.g., Brenner & DeLamater, 2016; Hadaway et al., 1998) suggest that a person’s identity in the area of interest may bias their responding. Specifically, that people interpret and respond to items in terms of the standards of their important identities, effectively, their ideal selves.

The present study investigated whether having participants in the experimental condition respond to items first in terms of their ideal selves may then enable them to respond more accurately about their actual selves. Five different self-report scales were used along with indirect measures and measures of identity importance (each of which corresponded to the topic measured by the self-report scales). Participants in the experimental condition responded to each item twice, in terms of their ideal then their actual selves. Participants in the control condition responded to all items once, as in traditional survey response formats. Ideal and actual-self responses were compared to responses from the control condition. Results indicate that the ideal self might influence responding but does not seem to be the sole basis (i.e., people may not necessarily self-report in terms of their ideal selves).



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