Socially Desirable Responding: Enhancement and Denial in 20 Countries

Jia He, Fons J.R. van de Vijver, Alejandra Dominguez Espinosa, Amina Abubakar, Radosveta Dimitrova, Byron G. Adams, Arzu Aydinli, Kokou Atitsogbe, Itziar Alonso-Arbiol, Magdalena Bobowik, Ronald Fischer, Venzislav Jordanov, Stefanos Mastrotheodoros, Félix Neto, Yael J. Ponizovsky, Jochen Reb, Samantha Sim, Laurent Sovet, Delia Stefenel, A. O. SuryaniErgyul Tair, Arnaud Villieux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigated the dimensionality, measurement invariance, and cross-cultural variations of social desirability. A total of 3,471 university students from 20 countries completed an adapted version of the Marlowe–Crowne scale. A two-dimensional structure was revealed in the pooled sample, distinguishing enhancement (endorsement of positive self-description) and denial (rejection of negative self-description). The factor structure was supported in most countries; medium-sized item bias was found in two denial items. In a multilevel analysis, we found that (a) there was more cross-cultural variation in denial than enhancement; (b) females tended to score higher on enhancement whereas males tended to score higher on denial; (c) the Human Development Index, an indicator of country socioeconomic development, was the best (negative) predictor of denial; and (d) both enhancement and denial seemed to be associated with country-level values and personality pertinent to “fitting in.” We conclude that social desirability has a positive and a negative impression management dimension that are meaningfully associated with country-level characteristics, and we argue that social desirability is better interpreted as culturally regulated response amplification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-249
Number of pages23
JournalCross-Cultural Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cultures
  • multilevel analysis
  • personality
  • social desirability
  • values


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