Isaac Scientific Publishing

Psychology Research and Applications

Can Social Desirability Be Detected Statistically at the Macro-Sociological Level?

Download PDF (215.5 KB) PP. 14 - 28 Pub. Date: March 31, 2021

DOI: 10.22606/pra.2021.31002


  • Walter R. Schumm*
    Department of Applied Human Sciences, College of Health and Human Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-1403, USA
  • Duane W. Crawford
    Department of Applied Human Sciences, College of Health and Human Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-1403, USA


While a few have argued that social science has been subject to progressive biases, others have discounted such ideas. However, no one has yet performed empirical tests over a large range of studies for such possible bias, which we label macro-level social desirability (MLSD). Combining the results from fifty-nine empirical studies that assessed rates of nonheterosexuality among children of same-sex parents, we found that the higher the maximum rates reported, the less likely those reports were to have been cited in Google Scholar by counts or by annual rate, which may reflect MLSD. However, after several statistical controls, the association for counts became non-significant, while the association for rates became stronger, although the effect sizes were in a moderate (d = .28 or higher) to large range (d, up to .68) by either analysis. Generally, research quality acted as a suppressor variable for MLSD but was significantly related to both counts and rates of citations, indicating that higher quality articles were more likely to have been cited, even controlling for the number of years since first publication. Higher quality articles were slightly more likely to report higher rates of nonheterosexuality among children of same-sex parents. We discuss implications of our findings and suggest future directions of research.


social desirability, citation rates, same-sex parenting, research methodology


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