What is the relation between cultural orientation and socially desirable responding?

Ashok K. Lalwani, Sharon Shavitt, Timothy Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research suggests that collectivists are more likely to engage in deception and socially desirable responding to maintain good relationships with others. In contrast, individualists are portrayed as candid and sincere because individualism encourages people to "be yourself." The authors propose that people with both types of cultural orientations or backgrounds engage in desirable responding, albeit in distinct ways. In Study 1, respondents from the United States compared with those from Singapore, and European Americans compared with Asian Americans, scored higher on self-deceptive enhancement (SDE)-the tendency to see oneself in a positive light and to give inflated assessment of one's skills and abilities but lower on impression management (IM) by misrepresenting their self-reported actions to appear more normatively appropriate. In Studies 2 to 4, horizontal individualism as a cultural orientation correlated with SDE but not with IM, whereas horizontal collectivism correlated with IM but not with SDE. Further analyses examining (a) individual differences in the tendency to answer deceptively and (b) responses to behavioral scenarios shed additional light on the culturally relevant goals served by these distinct types of socially desirable responding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Collectivism
  • Cultural orientation
  • Individualism
  • Socially desirable responding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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