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Rushing towards virtue: time pressure increases socially desirable responding

Zedelius, C.M.Schooler, J. University of California,
Santa Barbara,
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences,
2018 Consciousness

The oldest method in psychology of trying to gain access to one part of a divided mind is to instruct participants to answer quickly. Here we propose an alternative account for this procedure, namely, that it makes people give the socially desirable response. We randomly assigned 1,500 Americans to answer a social desirability scale either quickly or slowly. We use an intention-to-treat analysis to test the effects quick vs. slow responding on social desirability.

We show quick responding causes an increase in social desirability. We propose that a number of findings using the fast/slow responding manipulation can be partially or entirely explained by participants’ giving the socially desirable response. Future investigations using the time pressure manipulation should account for social desirability to ensure the results are not entirely driven by this mechanism.

The article was published in: PsyArXiv. August 14.

Full article

This work was supported (in part) by the Fetzer Franklin Fund of the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust.