versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027
LEMOS, Viviana. Construction and validation of a scale to assess social desirability in children (EDESI). Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2005, vol.22, n.1, pp. 77-96. ISSN 1668-7027.
Personality assessment verbal tests are often considered objectives taking into account the standardized nature of verbal stimuli utilized and response options, the transformation of punctuations to typical, and the objective valuation of the test (Fernández-Ballesteros, 2000). Nevertheless, this supposedly objective valuation is subordinated to some problems and limitations. Some of these are: random responses, in which the individual follows a pattern of response not determined by the content of items, dissimulation or feigning, with which the subject tries to misrepresent his answers to hide information or distort it; the subjects response style, which means the individual chooses to be moderate or extreme, positive or negative in the way he answers; and last we refer to the social desirability which makes the subject respond approximating his answers to those considered socially more desirable. This psychological tendency of attributing socially desirable personality traits to oneself and rejecting those that are socially undesirable produces a distorting effect that, if taken to extreme, can invalidate a psychological measurement. In a previous research (Lemos, 2003), it was observed that children are very prone to give socially expected answers with the aim of pleasing others. This is the reason why it was judged important to design a scale, which may assess social desirability in children, since such an instrument is not available in our environment. A sample of 141 middle class children of both sexes between 10 and 12 years old of Entre Ríos ( Argentina ) was employed. For the instrument's psychometric analysis, discriminating power of items was considered in the first place, analyzing the distribution of given responses with frequency analysis, considering discriminating those items that didn't exceed 75% of adhesion to one of the two response options ( yes-no ). With the same purpose, a t -test, mean difference, was also applied to compare the answers given to each item by the subjects that had higher social desirability (superior 25%) and lower social desirability (inferior 25%), supposing that if the item was discriminating the differences in response should be highly significant ( p = .000). In second place Cronbach's alpha was calculated to evaluate the instrument's reliability related to its intern consistency. In third place factor analysis of the scale was realized to assess its factorial validity. In the last place, the scale's construction validity was analyzed using variance analysis, ANOVA, in which social desirability related to age was compared. The theoretic hypothesis on which this analysis was based is that in proportion to age increases, social desirability diminishes, since it could be related to the child's affective dependence to adults, which diminishes as the child gains more independence and self assurance/self reliance. With regard to findings concerning validity and reliability of the test, we have observed that the ultimate version of the scale presents good psychometric properties, being its intern consistency satisfactory and its factorial structure simple and clear. We consider that in children, the social desirability could be related in part to personality characteristics linked, for example, to social adaptability, to environmental characteristics of the child, and fundamentally it would be highly related to developmental characteristics of this period. Because of this reason we believe that smaller children could be the most affected, and this would add one more difficulty to the many difficulties children's psychological assessment already has. We think the scale designed can be useful to complement childhood personality assessment, whether analyzing social desirability in children as a characteristic of personality, whether as a possible distortion effect of measurement.
Palabras clave : Distortion in personality measures; Childhood social desirability; Childhood Social Desirability Assessment Scale.