- The impact of "forgiving" introductions on the reporting of sensitive behavior in surveys: the role of social desirability response style and developmental status
- Public Opinion Quarterly
- Volume | Issue number
- 75 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
The use of "forgiving" introductions is generally recommended for survey questions about sensitive behavior. However, research results on the effectiveness of this technique are inconsistent. This study tested whether the effectiveness of forgiving introductions depends on individual differences in respondents’ social desirability response style (SDRS) and developmental status. In an online survey among 3,802 respondents aged 12 to 89 years, we conducted an experiment with a one-factor (forgiving introduction vs. no forgiving introduction) between-subjects design. Use of sexual media content was our target sensitive behavior. Including a forgiving introduction had no main effect on the reporting of sensitive behavior overall, but depended on respondents’ SDRS: when a forgiving introduction was included in the questions, respondents high in SDRS reported more sensitive behavior than did respondents low in SDRS. This effect further depended on respondents’ developmental status. Forgiving introductions increased the reporting of sensitive behavior among adolescents and emerging adults (i.e., 12- to 25-year-olds) high in SDRS, but caused little differences in the reporting of such behavior among adults (i.e., people older than 25).
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