Are your participants being dishonest in your research?

By Namika Sagara, Ph.D., President, Sagara ConsultingDr. Sagara speaks at NEMRA and national research and insights conferences. Click here for the full article.One of the challenges we face as researchers is to obtain honest and accurate responses. Unfortunately, people do not always provide accurate answers and they sometimes intentionally give you dishonest answers. They do so for many different reasons but two are most relevant with respect to research.\r\n\r\nOne of the reasons people lie is social desirability bias. We want to shed positive light on ourselves. Think about the last time you visited doctor’s office and were asked “how many times do you exercise per week?” Or “how many alcoholic beverage do you consumer per week?” Did you feel the urge to round up the number of time you exercise and round down the number of drinks you consume? Well, I do (but at least I’m being honest about my dishonesty now!). And I know most people do, too, even though it’s in our best interest to be honest and convey more accurate information to our doctors.

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