Original Research

Socially desirable responding within the context of privacy-related research: A personality perspective

Karl van der Schyff, Stephen Flowerday, Karen Renaud
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 24, No 1 | a1507 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v24i1.1507 | © 2022 Karl van der Schyff, Stephen Flowerday, Karen Renaud | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 January 2022 | Published: 29 April 2022

About the author(s)

Karl van der Schyff, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Commerce, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
Stephen Flowerday, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Commerce, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
Karen Renaud, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom


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Abstract

Background: Socially desirable responding within the context of self-reported surveys is a well-known and persistent problem that plagues quantitative studies. Such forms of responding are particularly problematic within the context of personality-based studies that investigate privacy-related decision-making. In such instances, certain respondents may feel pressured to provide socially desirable responses, which reduces the overall quality of the collected data.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to evaluate the extent to which the Big Five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) elicit socially desirable responses within the context of privacy-related decision-making.

Method: To evaluate their hypotheses, the authors empirically situate their study within the context of respondents’ intended use of Facebook privacy settings. To this end, 576 survey responses were analysed using partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM).

Results: It was found that some personality traits were indeed significantly related to socially desirable responding – albeit not always as expected. For example, highly agreeable individuals were unlikely to provide socially desirable responses: choosing honest responses. Neuroticism, on the other hand, had the opposite effect.

Conclusion: Based on the results, the authors conclude that neurotic individuals seem predisposed towards responding in a socially desirable manner within the context of privacy-related surveys. The authors, therefore, advise researchers within the field of privacy-based personality studies to take care when analysing their results.


Keywords

Background: Socially desirable responding within the context of self-reported surveys is a well-known and persistent problem that plagues quantitative studies. Such forms of responding are particularly problematic within the context of personality-based s

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