Social desirability and self-reported driving behaviours: Should we be worried?
There is widespread use of self-report measures of driving behaviour in the traffic psychology literature, despite the frequent criticism that such measures are subject to social desirability bias. However, no research has yet investigated the more recently developed measures of driving anxiety and avoidance behaviour for socially desirable responding. Furthermore, relatively little research has investigated the issue of socially desirable responding on self-reported driver behaviour in general, and that which does exist has several shortcomings. The present study used a repeated measures design to assess the effect of social desirability on a measure of driving avoidance, the Driving and Riding Avoidance Scale (DRAS), and the Driver Behaviour Questionnaire (DBQ). A sample of 228 undergraduate students completed the DRAS, DBQ and a measure of socially desirable responding in class, which constituted a public place, and then again 2 months later in the privacy of their homes. None of the DBQ items were significantly different across the two locations. However, two of the DRAS general avoidance items were higher in the public setting, perhaps demonstrating the effect of socially desirable responding on driving avoidance due to environmental or practical concern. Nevertheless, overall it appears as though the DRAS and DBQ are not particularly vulnerable to socially desirable responding, although further well-designed research on the effects of such bias on these and other self-report measures of driving behaviour should be undertaken.