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Do bad guys lie? Social desirability on self-reports

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When researching crime (and most other things come to think about it) in psychology we tend to have to resort to self-report measures. The gut reaction to any self-report measure when thinking about evaluation issues is that the participants may give socially desirable answers – especially when asking about offending behaviour.

The Deception Blog has recently found research that provides evidence supporting that this might not be the case for all psychometrics:

The Self-Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ, Loza, 2005) is a self-report measure designed to predict violent and nonviolent recidivism. According to the authors of this study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, the SAQ has been shown, in several studies, to be valid in a variety of different “populations, settings, cultures, gender, and age groups” (p.672). [quote]

The Self-Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ) is a recently developed self-report questionnaire designed to predict violent and nonviolent offender recidivism.

An interesting development – a psychometric that apparently controls for biases and social desirability.  I’ve google-d for a while and I can’t find a copy, so if anyone does I wouldn’t mind having a look at one. I’m still rather skeptical of this – I have seen many psychometrics that are used in prisons for both ‘normal’ and violent offenders and I haven’t found one yet that I think is valid in all, if any, settings.

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