Because an absence of evidence of an association does not equal evidence of absence of an association, future research is not precluded from revealing such an association after all. A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology. RC drafted the manuscript and AG substantially contributed to revising it. Self-deception is an unintentional propensity to portray oneself in a favorable light, manifested in positive but honestly believed self-descriptions [ 34 ]. A recent report on online panels by the American Association for Public Opinion Research [ 29 ] concluded that, regardless of design, there were higher reports of socially undesirable attitudes and behaviors in self-reported web-based questionnaires than in face-to-face interviews. Although social desirability was not found to be related to self-reported PA in this web-based research, this does not imply that self-report measures reveal the same results as direct measures e. A recent review found correlations between self-report and direct measures of PA to be low to moderate [ 22 ]. Of those, 6, initiated the questionnaire response rate Second, the dropout in these studies seems to be innocuous, because socio-demographics did not moderate the impact of social desirability on self-reported health risk behaviors. There was no ethics approval for this study specifically, but for the umbrella project which was conducted by an external party CentERdata; http:
Conclusions The studies at hand provided no convincing evidence to throw doubt on the usefulness of the Internet as a medium to collect self-reports on health risk behaviors. Of those, 5, initiated the questionnaire response rate Therefore, higher scores are probably related to impression management; a tendency to intentionally distort one's self-image to be perceived favorably by others [ 34 ]. Mode comparison studies i. Therefore, social desirability might have exerted less influence in this web-based study in comparison with, for example, disclosure in front of an interviewer [ 21 ]. Schmitt MJ, Steyer R. Hence, the focus of these studies was not on the influence of social desirability itself. Besides differences in correlations among scales, we did not hypothesize differences among the scales regarding their relationship to self-reports of health risk behaviors, since we did not expect social desirability to have an influence in web-based research on health risk behaviors in the first place. This being only a general caution as this work was not about the comparative validity of self-reports versus direct measures. Methods Three longitudinal studies Study 1: Self-report measures are a common way of gathering data in research on health risk behaviors. In line with a meta-analysis about social desirability distortion [ 32 ], we did not expect any moderating effects of socio-demographics. While some studies speak in favor of assessing alcohol use and addiction severity via the web [ 15 , 16 ], others found underreporting of undesirable behaviors, such as drug use and alcohol use [ 17 ]. This study, therefore, does not throw doubt on the usefulness of the Internet as a medium of obtaining self-reports of PA. On the other hand, previous research indicated that smoking behavior can indeed be reliably assessed by self-reports obtained via the web [ 12 , 13 ]. Med Sci Sport Exer. In tailored interventions, self-reports are used to tailor the intervention to respondents' behavior and determinants of this behavior [ 3 , 4 ]. J Med Internet Res. Link and Mokdad [ 11 ], for example, found the use of web-based research with the general public to be problematic e. Is web interviewing a good alternative to telephone interviewing? Int J Behav Nutr Phy. To what extent is social desirability associated with self-reported health risk behaviors in web-based research? Second, the dropout in these studies seems to be innocuous, because socio-demographics did not moderate the impact of social desirability on self-reported health risk behaviors. In co-operation with Statistics Netherlands addresses were drawn from the nationwide address frame. A recent report on online panels by the American Association for Public Opinion Research [ 29 ] concluded that, regardless of design, there were higher reports of socially undesirable attitudes and behaviors in self-reported web-based questionnaires than in face-to-face interviews. International physical activity questionnaire: Internet versus mailed questionnaires:
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