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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 60  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 415-416

Social desirability bias in face to face interviews

Department of Community Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication5-Nov-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. K Kaushal
Department of Community Medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.143989

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How to cite this article:
Kaushal K. Social desirability bias in face to face interviews. J Postgrad Med 2014;60:415-6

How to cite this URL:
Kaushal K. Social desirability bias in face to face interviews. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Sep 30];60:415-6. Available from:


This has reference to the article, "Influence of alcohol on condom use pattern during non-spousal sexual encounter in male migrant workers in north India" [1] where I have concerns with the methodology.

The authors have studied the influence of alcohol on condom use pattern during "non-spousal" sexual encounter in male migrant workers in north India. It is not clear as to why the authors stuck to the "non spousal" sexual encounters only. It is more likely for the male migrant workers to engage in "spousal" sexual encounters after alcohol abuse than "non spousal" sexual encounters if they had their spouse staying with them. The justification for exclusion of spousal sexual encounters is not clear.

The authors have not listed the total number of male migrant workers who had brought their family along with them at their present station and then enlisting the number of times the workers had "spousal" sexual encounters after alcohol use and then studied the condom use pattern in this group as well.

Had the authors taken both the groups into consideration, they would have been able to draw a comparison between influences of alcohol on condom use pattern both spousal and non spousal sexual encounters.

Secondly, the authors have mentioned in their study procedure that they conducted face-to-face interviews using a pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire. The method used for collecting relationship and sexual behavior data may influence the reported prevalence of some key behaviors, particularly among males. [2] Respondents may deliberately answer questions inaccurately if their behavior were to be considered socially unacceptable.

Method of questionnaire delivery holds importance in studying sensitive issues like sexual encounters (as in the present present study) as it is uneasy to make personal disclosures of sexual information. Face-to-face interviews, for instance, can be influenced by interviewers' probing, interviewer appearing to be judgmental about the interviewee and participants concerned about the privacy of their responses. All of these may prevent the interviewees from providing honest answers to sensitive questions.

A special kind of bias called "social desirability bias" thus creeps into such studies. Social desirability bias is the tendency of respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. [3] Personality, sexual behavior and drug use are some of the sensitive topics where socially desirable responding (SDR) is of special concern. [3]

 :: References Top

Rizwan SA, Kant S, Goswami K, Rai SK, Misra P. Influence of alcohol on condom use pattern during non-spousal sexual encounter in male migrant workers in north India. J Postgrad Med 2014;60:276-81.  Back to cited text no. 1
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Kelly CA, Soler-Hampejsek E, Mensch BS, Hewett PC. Social desirability bias in sexual behavior reporting: Evidence from an interview mode experiment in rural Malawi. Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2013;39:14-21.  Back to cited text no. 2
Social Desirability Bias [Internet]. Available from: [Last accessed on 2014 Aug 24].  Back to cited text no. 3

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