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The effect of social desirability on self reported and recorded road traffic accidents

By Anders E. af Wahlberg, Lisa Dorn and T. Kline


The use of lie scales has a fairly long history in psychometrics, with the intention of identifying and correcting for socially desirable answers. This represents one type of common method variance (bias introduced when both predictors and predicted variables are gathered from the same source), which may lead to spurious associations in self-reports. Within traffic safety research, where self-report methods are used abundantly, it is uncommon to control for social desirability artifacts, or reporting associations between lie scales, crashes and driver behaviour scales. In the present study, it was shown that self-reports of traffic accidents were negatively associated with a lie scale for driving, while recorded ones were not, as could be expected if the scale was valid and a self-report bias existed. We conclude that whenever self-reported crashes are used as an outcome variable and predicted by other self-report measures, a lie scale should be included and used for correcting the associations. However, the only existing lie scale for traffic safety is not likely to catch all socially desirable responding, because traffic safety may not be desirable for all demographic groups. New lie scales should be developed specifically for driver behaviour questionnaires, to counter potential bias and artifactual results. Alternatively, the use of a single source of data should be discontinued. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Topics: Common method variance Social desirability DSDS Methodology Self-report Accident drivers behavior bias involvement violations substance scale
Publisher: Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam.
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.trf.2009.11.004
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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