Social Desirability's Influence on Audience Research: Discerning and Reducing It

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


The term ‘social desirability bias’ (SD bias) is used to describe a systematic tendency to adapt one’s behavior or communication to conform to perceived social norms. While SD bias, which can affect the validity of empirical studies, has received considerable attention in psychological research, it has yet to be examined in the context of the fine and performing arts. This study is among the first to provide empirical evidence for high trait desirability (TD) in the cultural sector and a resultant SD bias. It shows that due to SD bias, audiences in the cultural sector are more likely to give misleading positive feedback. It is therefore incumbent on researchers in the cultural sector to integrate an awareness of and possibilities for mitigating SD bias at all stages of their studies. This
paper offers several specific suggestions on how this can be done.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cultural Management: Arts, Economics, Policy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)13-45
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

ISBN 978-3-8376-3825-7, PDF: 978-3-8394-3825-1