The study assesses how a social desirability (SD) bias influences the relationship between several independent and dependent variables commonly investigated in ethics research. The effect of a SD bias was observed when a questionnaire was administered under varying conditions of anonymity and with different measurement techniques for the SD construct. Findings reveal that a SD bias is present in the majority of relationships studied, and it most frequently plays a moderating role. While the measure of SD influences the strength and type of relationship, condition of anonymity has relatively little effect on the level of SD.
Maria F. Fernandes is a doctoral student in the Department of Management and Systems at Washington State University. Her research interests lie in the area of business ethics and equity theory. She has published in the Journal of Business Ethics.
Donna M. Randall is an Associate Professor in Management and Systems at Washington State University. Her research interests include organizational commitment, media coverage of elite crime, and ethical issues in management. Her publications have appeared in such journals as Decision Sciences, Academy of Management Review, and Journal of Business Ethics.